The Oakland A’s had been planning to stretch A.J. Puk out as a starter. Those plans may have changed.
At this point, the A’s rotation appears to be set. Paul Blackburn and Cole Irvin are locked into spots in the rotation. Kyle Muller is going to get his chances. Drew Rucinski is likely ticketed for the rotation as well. That left Puk to battle several different pitchers for the fifth and final spot in the rotation.
Oakland A’s do not have place for A.J. Puk in rotation any longer
Those plans have changed. Shintaro Fujinami was signed to a one year deal and is slated to be a part of the A’s rotation. Barring injury, their five starters on the Opening Day roster appear to be set. Meanwhile, the A’s designated Tyler Cyr for assignment to make room for Fujinami, adding another opening in the bullpen.
Puk appeared to have found his place in the majors last season as a member of the A’s bullpen. He was finally healthy for a full season, posting a 3.12 ERA and a 1.146 WHiP over his 66.1 innings, striking out 76 batters with 23 walks. He quickly emerged as a late inning option and one of manager Mark Kotsay’s most trusted weapons.
It is understandable why the A’s would have considered moving Puk back into a spot in the rotation. He was supposed to be a future ace, someone whose dominant fastball and devastating slider highlighted a four pitch arsenal that made him one of the top prospects in the game.
But those days are long in the past. So too should be the idea that Puk is going to be a part of the A’s rotation. He has his place in the late innings, serving as a possible fireman or eighth inning weapon as the A’s look to close out a lead or get out of a difficult spot. It is a role that Puk thrived in last season, and with the plethora of options they now have for the rotation, it is one in which he should stay.
The Oakland A’s had considered putting A.J. Puk back into their rotation. Instead, he is staying where he belongs – as a late inning reliever.