12 relievers the Mets should target ahead of the trade deadline

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11) NY Mets trade target A.J. Puk

The once-highly-touted starting prospect has found a home in the A’s bullpen.

Puk has been lights out this year. In 23 appearances, he’s pitched 27.1 innings and given up 22 hits, just five earned runs and walks, and he’s struck out 25 batters. His ERA is 1.65, his FIP is 3.03, his WHIP is 0.99, and his ERA+ is 224.

The slinging lefty has reverse splits. He holds right-handed hitters to a gross .207/.246/.293/.539 slash line. He’s still pretty good against lefties, holding them to a .233/.298/.372/.670 slashline. 

Puk excels at limiting hard contact. He’s in the 94th percentile in average exit velocity and the 89th percentile in hard hit rate. He’s in the 64th percentile in barrel rate, 63rd in xwOBA, xERA, and xSLG. He’s not really a strikeout pitcher, but he does get a ton of ground balls, with almost half of his outs coming on the ground.

One thing that is interesting about him is that he has two distinctly different release points. One is high and over the top, and the other is a three-quarters angle that’s almost sidearm. I don’t know if he’s doing it intentionally or if he’s even aware of it, but he still manages to command the ball well. He’s in the 84th percentile in walk rate.

Puk comes with four total years of control, one at the MLB minimum and three years of arbitration. He’ll be 27 for the remainder of the season, so his youth and control could make him somewhat costly, but he could also be worth that cost for the next few seasons.