Athletics

A's hope to activate Puk next week for the stretch run

Athletics

The A's should soon get a big boost to their pitching staff. 

After Mike Minor was activated Thursday with Daniel Mengden going to the injury list after testing positive for the coronavirus last week, another lefty is set to join Oakland if all goes to plan. 

A's general manager David Forst told Bay Area reporters Thursday that left-handed top prospect A.J. Puk is on schedule to be activated from the team's alternate site in San Jose next week. 

"We're going to give him one more outing tomorrow, and then hopefully look towards activating him next week," Forst said. 

The A's need as much pitching as possible right now, too. Starting Sept. 8, they will play 10 games in just seven days. That includes three doubleheaders in three different cities. 

To end the regular season, the A's have to play 26 games in 24 days. They have four doubleheaders scheduled this month. The question, then, is whether Puk will be a starter or reliever once he returns from the IL?

"I don't know that there's time to stretch him out as a starter," Forst said. "I think we're still looking at him as a reliever, albeit one who can throw more than one inning at a time.

"He'll be valuable in that role."

Puk, 25, made his major league debut last season out of the bullpen for the A's after missing the entire 2018 season from Tommy John surgery. He went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 relief appearances for Oakland. 

 
RELATED: What Forst saw in Minor to add him during trade deadline

Before this season, the A's planned on Puk being part of their starting rotation. The former first-round pick was expected to form a nasty duo with young lefty Jesus Luzardo. But Puk strained his left shoulder just before the shortened season was set to begin. 

Even as a reliever, though, adding Puk should be huge for the A's. The 6-foot-7 lefty can hit triple digits with his fastball and has a filthy slider that seems near unhittable at times.

Puk could be the exact pitcher the first-place A's need just in time for the stretch run before the playoffs.