A.J. Puk shows why he can be weapon in Oakland A’s bullpen
By David Hill
The Oakland A’s may finally have found a place for A.J. Puk that does not involve the Injured List. Despite his injury woes over the years, the A’s have hoped that he can develop into a frontline starter, someone whose overall stuff gives him the potential to dominate.
Puk’s stuff also has the potential to make him a dominant reliever. With his high octane fastball and excellent slider from the left side, he could be the A’s answer to Josh Hader. Even if he is not the closer, he could be a perfect fireman, getting out of difficult situations and slamming the door shut until the ninth inning.
A.J. Puk giving hope that he can fulfill potential
He showed that potential in his first outing back from Triple-A. Puk struck out two batters in a shutout inning of work, with his fastball sitting in the upper 90s and his slider being the wipeout pitch that it is capable of being.
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The A’s have needed to find more help from the left side in their bullpen. Jake Diekman had been solid at the start of the year, but has begun to tire. Andrew Chafin was not the biggest name that the A’s acquired at the trade deadline, but he has been a solid presence in the bullpen. After several attempts to find another lefty reliever, the A’s finally had a viable option.
But as solid as Diekman and Chafin may be, they do not have the same sort of potential that Puk possesses. He could be that dominant arm that the A’s need in relief, someone who can shutdown the opposition without issue. Adding him to Lou Trivino in the final innings can give the A’s the type of bullpen they had last season.
It is just one outing. And given Puk’s injury history, it is difficult to pencil him into a significant role. But he was dominant over his last 22 innings in Triple-A, posting a 1.64 ERA while flummoxing the opposition. If he can stay healthy, Puk can be a force in the A’s bullpen.
A.J. Puk had an excellent return to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday. His strong outing is giving hope that he can reach his potential in the bullpen.