A.J. Puk remains an enigma for the Oakland A’s.
He had initially been put into the bullpen in an attempt to manage his innings due to his numerous injuries in his professional career. Eventually, Puk was expected to ascend to the rotation once again with the hope that he could live up to his potential as a top of the rotation arm.
A.J. Puk has his home in Oakland A’s bullpen
At least, that was the plan. The problem is that Puk outperformed expectations, emerging as one of Mark Kotsay’s most valuable late inning arms. While he did struggle in the ninth inning, Puk posted a 3.12 ERA and a 1.146 WHiP in his 66.1 innings, striking out 76 batters with 23 walks. He was also healthy throughout the season, something that could not have been considered a given at any point in time.
That success has caused the idea of Puk as a starter to be revisited. The A’s site posed the question of whether or not Puk could enter their rotation mix for 2023 considering there are a couple of openings. However, Kotsay did note that Puk is a “max-effort guy” and that the innings jump would be significant if he was to enter the rotation.
Kotsay also stated that the A’s would look to find a path where Puk thrives and can have success. At this point, the best plan of attack for Puk could be to use him in a fireman role, allowing him to get those key outs as needed. As he may be called upon to fire a second inning, this could also be a chance to see how well he would hold up to an expanded workload and longer outings.
There is some thought that the Oakland A’s could look to put A.J. Puk in the rotation next year. He is better off sticking in the bullpen.