Expected to serve as the Oakland A’s backup starter, Chris Bassitt may find himself with a more prominent role than expected at the start of the year.
The expectation was that Chris Bassitt would be on the outside of the Oakland A’s rotation looking in. While he would be a valued depth option, his spot in the rotation had been taken by phenoms Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. Bassitt still had value as a long reliever or spot starter, but it would take an injury or ineffectiveness before he returned to the rotation.
And then, Luzardo tested positive for COVID-19. While he returned to the A’s camp on Friday, there is less than a week for him to get back into playing shape. Although he had been working out as much as possible while in quarantine, it will still take some time for Luzardo to stretch out for a role in the rotation.
This leaves the A’s in a quandary. While they want Luzardo to move forward as a starter, the reality of the upcoming season must be addressed. As such, the A’s have considered putting Luzardo in the bullpen, at least initially, for the 2020 season.
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Enter Bassitt. He is coming off of his most successful season in the majors, posting a 10-5 record with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.194 WHiP in his 28 appearances, 25 of which were starts. Over his 144 innings, he struck out 141 batters with just 47 walks. Having a pitcher with that type of production as a backup option for the rotation put the A’s in an enviable position.
This season is also of vital importance for Bassitt. With Mike Fiers as an impending free agent, a strong showing in 2020 could give Bassitt a look at a rotation spot next year. He is also due for arbitration a second time, and could be in line for a solid pay raise for 2021.
As it was, Bassitt was a quietly important part of the A’s hopes for 2020. The rotation is hardly a monument to health, as every starter aside from Fiers missed time last year. Bassitt himself missed time at the start of the season due to a leg injury, but his 25 starts in 2019 were still the third most on the team.
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Chris Bassitt has a chance to play an important part with the Oakland A’s in 2020. In doing so, he could pitch himself into an important role in 2021.