A.J. Puk finding his role with Oakland A’s

May 16, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher A.J. Puk (33) throws a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
May 16, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher A.J. Puk (33) throws a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Oakland A’s have been waiting for A.J. Puk for years. Injuries have sapped his potential, leaving him unable to fulfill his expected role as a future ace for the organization. While the A’s had still held out hope that Puk would once day return to the rotation, his present role was going to be in the bullpen.

Instead, the A’s may have found Puk’s future place. He has thrived as the A’s fireman, serving in a multi-inning role to get the team out of trouble. It may not be what the A’s had imagined when Puk was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, but it is a role that he can excel at.

A.J. Puk thriving in Oakland A’s bullpen

Puk has emerged as one of the A’s better stories thus far in 2022. He has become the key lefty in Mark Kotsay’s bullpen, typically dominating when called upon. He has posted a 0.95 ERA and a 1.053 WHiP in his 19 innings entering Saturday, striking out 19 batters with just five walks.

It is not a surprise that the opposition has struggled against Puk thus far. He is holding opposing batters to a .214/.267/.257 batting line in their 75 plate appearances, with just three doubles for extra base hits. Only one opponent is considered to have barreled the ball against Puk according to Statcast as he is in the 96th percentile in terms of hard hit balls against and 94th percentile for exit velocity.

He could even get better as the year progresses. Puk is only in the 44th percentile for chase rate and in the 58th percentile for whiff rate. If he can find a way to generate more swinging strikes and get batters to chase off the plate, he could become even more of a weapon in the A’s bullpen.

dark. Next. Jimenez making history

A.J. Puk has become a weapon for the Oakland A’s. Transitioning to the bullpen was exactly what he needed to find his way in the majors.

facebooktwitterreddit