The Oakland Athletics acquired Chris Bassitt, along with shortstop Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley and infield prospect Rangel Ravelo from the Chicago White Sox on December 10, 2014 in exchange for starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa. This transaction signaled a series of moves to come from A’s general manager Billy Beane, as the “youth movement” had been thrown into full effect.
Despite the club’s lackluster performance in 2015, Bassitt has shown some promise for the green and gold, whether it be as a starter or simply as a reliever coming out of the bullpen. Although, the question heading into the 2016 campaign is which role is Bassitt best suited for in the long haul for the Athletics? Obviously he’s in Oakland’s plans for the foreseeable future and has an excellent chance to make the club’s 25-man roster. The numbers are only a part of the equation, however, I will leave the decision up to you — the fans, as to where Bassitt has the best chance to succeed moving forward.
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Bassitt’s statistics as a starter:
In his brief Major League career, Bassitt has an overall record of 2-9 with a 3.69 earned run average in 109 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old native from Toledo, Ohio possess a four-pitch arsenal, which includes your typical four-seamed fastball, slider, change-up, along with the occasional use of his curveball.
A 2013 in-depth prospect analysis, from Fan Graphs praises Bassitt for using the lower-half of his body as he is driving towards the plate. Another aspect that makes him unique is his lanky arm delivery, encompassed with a high leg kick, and instant head jerk reaction; ultimately leaving opposing hitters in a bind.
Although, at the MLB level, his presence on the hill hasn’t translated as expected. In 69 1/3 innings pitched, the 16th round draft pick from the 2011 Amateur Draft has surrendered 28 runs, four homers, and 16 walks in 12 starts. In most cases, Bassitt has continuously left his off-speed pitches over the middle of the plate and sluggers have capitalized with a 36.8 pull percentage to go along with a 36.4 center percentage. You would have to think that his inability to put away hitters with two strikes, accounts for these gaudy numbers.
A “Hound” in the ‘pen:
Prior to the 2015 season, Bassitt was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. However, by April 25, he was “strutting his stuff” for the green and gold, as he joined the club in Houston. In 4 1/3 innings the right-hander gave up three runs (including a homer), two hits and struck out three.
Despite the rough outing, Bassitt improved over the course of the season. Surprisingly, in his following appearance against the Angels, he pitched two scoreless innings while striking out three. The right-hander tossed a total of 10 2/3 frames and surrendering just four runs with a walk-to-strikeout-ratio of 9:8.
Whether it’s giving it his all out of the bullpen, Bassitt seems to flourish with an innings limit. The pressure of throwing six to seven scoreless frames are thrown out the door; giving him more time to develop his off-speed pitches and perfecting a sharp slider. With inconsistencies from the Athletics relief corps, most, if not all, slots are up for grabs and a reliable asset like Bassitt would be an exceptional fit down the road for the foreseeable future.