Athletics

A's to call up top pitching prospect A.J. Puk before Yankees series

A's to call up top pitching prospect A.J. Puk before Yankees series

The A's aren't messing around.

After taking three of four games from the Astros in a critical home series, Oakland is calling up one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. MLB.com's Martin Gallegos reported Monday morning that the A's are promoting A.J. Puk to the big leagues in time for their series in Oakland against the Yankees.

Puk, the A's No. 2 prospect behind fellow left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo, is expected to pitch out of the bullpen. The former first-round draft pick went 4-1 with a 4.91 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen for Triple-A Las Vegas.

His high ERA can be tricky, though.

The ball flies in Las Vegas and home runs are being hit at an unprecedented rate in the Pacific Coast League this season. Opposing batters hit just .175 off Puk in Triple-A and he struck out 16 batters in 11 innings while only issuing three walks.

[RELATED: A's know they must work to catch star-studded Astros]

Adding the 6-foot-7 lefty should be a big boost to Oakland's bullpen. The A's, who are 1 1/2 games back of an AL wild-card spot, enter Monday with the sixth-best bullpen ERA in the majors at 4.01. The former Florida Gator is yet another weapon to close the door at the end of games. 

Puk, 24, underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018. He figures to be a starter at the front of the rotation down the line, but for now, he'll look to come out of the 'pen and help push the A's to the playoffs once again.

Jake Diekman's frustrations with MLB had him considering opting out

Jake Diekman's frustrations with MLB had him considering opting out

The restart of the MLB season is becoming more real since Monday’s announcement of the 2020 schedules for teams, but at the end of the day, there is still a coronavirus pandemic going on which is important to remember. 

It’s especially important for A’s reliever Jake Diekman.

Diekman, who just re-signed with the A’s in the offseason, told the San Francisco Chronicle he and his wife Amanda had discussions about opting out with the latest delay in testing results from MLB. He also said it could go further than just opting out. 

“We’ve had conversations about what it would look like if we opted out,” Diekman said. “We knew there would be hiccups but we didn’t know there would be hiccups with the actual test results because that’s basically the No. 1 priority. Everything else is secondary. I feel like deep down, every player has it in the back of their mind that this is all going to fall apart.”

Diekman joins other players, and A’s general manager David Forst who have expressed frustrations with the league’s delay from the lab in Utah.

Forst reportedly had informed the team of the situation saying in addition to the July 4 holiday halt, MLB or the company that collects the samples had not communicated to the organization. The A’s were forced to cancel Tuesday’s workouts since they never received the results joining other teams across the league who had to follow suit.

A’s position players have yet to take the field at The Coliseum. 

Diekman added he was “irked” with the situation noting the time is being wasted with just a few weeks until the July 24th scheduled Opening Day. 

“Some teams have already had televised simulated games and we haven’t had a workout yet. We have hitters who haven’t seen any live pitching in months and we’re supposed to play in just over two weeks?”

There is a silver lining, however. He complimented the team saying they’ve gone above and beyond to ensure the team’s safety. 

[RELATED: A's announce 60-game MLB schedule]

Diekman was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 10 which puts him at susceptible risk toward the coronavirus. To hear the team knows that and is taking the extra precautionary measures is special. Amanda even tweeted out how manager Bob Melvin has been so supportive of Jake and everything he is going through.

This is all on the league. 

MLB 2020 schedule release: Stacked A's squad shouldn't fear Dodgers

MLB 2020 schedule release: Stacked A's squad shouldn't fear Dodgers

Major League Baseball officially announced the 2020 season schedule on Monday, and as expected, it will look different than previous seasons. 

The A’s won’t reach the Eastern Time Zone unless they reach the playoffs. That’s because of the new scheduling rule where baseball teams remain in their own region and play teams in that area regardless of league.

They’ll play teams within their division 10 times. They’ll play each NL West at least three times, including six matchups against the Giants.

You’ll notice that start times are generally earlier, with some weekday games during the afternoon.

Here’s what really matters: The A’s are good. Like, really good.

They have a stacked rotation and an awesome starting lineup.

They won’t have to deal with teams from the east, so the travel will be shorter. They’ll have to deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers more than normal, but they’ve got the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres -- and they should be easy to handle.

The A’s finish the season with ease, with 11 of 14 games against teams not named the Dodgers or the Houston Astros. That’s a cakewalk, and they’re capable of making a run if they have to. The A’s have been closers in their recent past, so they can push for a division title and avoid the Astros when trying to stay away from the wild-card games that have plagued them so.

Those games against the Astros will be pivotal, though slightly less impactful without fans ready to jeer Mike Fiers for his part in the Houston cheating scandal. It’s not ideal to finish with the Dodgers and then the Seattle Mariners, but it could be worse.

[RELATED: Amanda Diekman appreciative of Bob Melvin's attitude toward husband]

The A’s are stacked. Other teams should be scared of them. The schedule ultimately doesn’t matter. If the A’s come out strong, they’ll be fine. That’s even the case with every game magnified by the fact there aren’t 162 to battle over.

Here’s a look at the entire 60-game schedule: