The Miami Marlins closer has a secret to his success...

A.J. Puk
A.J. Puk / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Christina De Nicola wrote an interesting article on about Miami Marlins closer A.J. Puk. I praised his acquisition before, and he was instrumental in a major road series win earlier this month. It turns out that the increasingly elite closer has a secret to his success. He made adjustments that directly led to him taking his career to the next level. What was his adjustment? What is his secret? Let's find out...

A.J. Puk has become an elite closer with the Miami Marlins.

Trading for A.J. Puk proved to be a great move for the Miami Marlins. Puk had a 3.12 ERA/3.68 FIP with 10.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for the Oakland Athletics in 2022. This season, he has a 1.00 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 8 games and 9.0 innings pitched. He has 4 saves as well.

According to the aforementioned article, the sweeper is becoming a very popular pitch in the Major Leagues. Puk has the sixth highest sweeper usage among all pitchers with 50.4%. Puk used a fastball (46.4%), slider (38.1%), sinker (15.4%) and changeup (0.2%) as his pitches last season. That was until he talked to fellow reliever and then teammate Sam Moll.

After talking to Moll, A.J. Puk switched his pitching repertoire to a sweeper, cutter and split-finger. He was actually supposed to be a starting pitcher this season for Oakland, but of course was traded to The Fish instead. This is what he had to say about this:

"I just wanted something with a little more movement and a little slower, too. I think it's better, because [it used to be that] everything's hard, hard, hard. Now, though, I've got something slower. They've got to sit back on [it]. And then with my fastball, I think it plays well with each other."

A.J. Puk has largely avoided throwing cutters so far this season. The reason being that he's worried that it might lead to hits. The results back it up, with him yet to give up any runs when throwing it. This is very promising, as having a lights-out closer, is one of the major things that the Miami Marlins need to become a playoff team.

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