Monday, January 17, 2022

Diamondbacks claims JB Wendelken is out of exemption; Also, the reason behind the acceleration in the velocity of AJ Puk

Former AK relief pitcher JB Wendelken was claimed a waiver by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

At one point, Wendelken was seen as a staple of the Oakland A’s bullpen. But Wendelken was named to the assignment on Tuesday to make room for left-handed pitching prospect AJ Puck in the active roster.

A could not be surprised that Wendelken had not clarified the exemption. Coming back earlier this year with a month-long oblique injury, the right-handed pitcher has struggled this season. But the 28-year-old showed strong enough performances in 2020 and 2019 to garner a lot of interest from other teams. The Diamondbacks’ 35-79 record is Major League Baseball’s worst record as of Wednesday, meaning they were high on the Weaver Wire priority list.

Wendelken had a 3.58 ERA in 32 2/3 innings in 2019 and pitched in 2020 with a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings, 31 strikeouts and 11 walks. In 25 innings in 2021, Wendelken’s ERA reached 4.32 with 26 strikeouts and 13 walks. . He struggled to find his footing after suffering an oblique strain on May 2.

Although Birch Smith could have been an option to clear the roster spot – he has one minor league option left and has made only six appearances since July 1 – his 3 1/3 of a scoreless ball in the relief of Sean Manea on Tuesday. The innings showed why he remained on the show roster. Having the option able to eat a few innings off the bullpen was paramount.

“We had to open a space, sometimes you have to make tough moves,” manager Bob Melvin said on Tuesday.

revival of aj puck

Pook was recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Las Vegas equipped with a brand new Randy Johnson-esque arm slot. The 6-foot-7 left-handed pitcher reduced his hand slot to 4-6 inches and saw his velocity ticking back up to 97-98mph, the velocity he had when he pulled out of the bullpen in 2019. After shoulder surgery this offseason, Pook returned to the mound this spring, with fastball velocities that remained in the low- to mid-90s.

Pook landed on the IL with a shoulder injury after an appearance with the A this April and was selected for Las Vegas shortly after being reinstated in May. Pook played a scoreless innings against the Cleveland Indians with two strikeouts in his return on Tuesday.

“I think it’s the arm angle that looks a lot freer to him,” said Melvin after the A’s 4-3 extra-innings win. “Don’t feel like he has to work hard to get straight to the top. I know he says he feels better with it and at first glance, I can understand why he feels good with it. ”

After posting a 9.42 ERA in 14 innings in June and a 10.80 ERA in 6 2/3 innings in May, Puck’s lower-arm slot helped him to a 1.89 ERA and 20 strikeouts in his last 19 innings in Las Vegas.

With rotation in tact and Dalton Jefferies next in case of emergency, Pook is expected to be out of the bullpen for the rest of the season. He ranks third on the left-hand reliever depth chart, along with Jake Dieckman and newly-acquired Andrew Chaffin, for high-leverage lefties from the bullpen. However, the Pook could work its way into more shifts and larger spaces.

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