Putting A.J. Puk in rotation a mistake for Oakland A’s

Oct 2, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher A.J. Puk (33) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the seventh inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher A.J. Puk (33) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the seventh inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Oakland A’s are still unsure of what they are doing with A.J. Puk for the long haul.

Their biggest concern for the 2022 season was being able to get him through the year with his health intact. He did just that, only missing time due to being on the Covid related Injured List last year as he emerged as a valuable part of the A’s bullpen. It had appeared as though he had found his role as a late inning weapon for the A’s to count on.

Oakland A’s need to leave A.J. Puk where he is

Instead, the A’s are being buoyed by Puk’s health. They are once again looking to put him in the rotation, as Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that general manager David Forst is giving Puk a chance to be a part of the rotation next year.

Puk showed that he can be a viable major league option. He posted a 3.12 ERA and a 1.146 WHiP in his 66.1 innings, striking out 76 batters with 23 walks. While he did struggle when given the chance to close, he was still a valuable piece in the bullpen.

Putting Puk in a starting role does make sense in some ways. He had been considered a potential top of the rotation option before his injury woes, someone whose arsenal could make him a future ace for the A’s. But that time has passed as Puk underwent Tommy John surgery and battled rotator cuff, labrum, biceps, and back issues. His arm and body just do not seem to be able to hold up to such a workload.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe now that he has proven he can get through a season without injury and is back to full health, he can fulfill his destiny of being that top of the rotation arm. However, the A’s are playing with fire if they take him out of the bullpen.

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The Oakland A’s are giving A.J. Puk a chance to crack their rotation in 2023. Although he was healthy last year, such a move could be a disaster.

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