Oakland A’s: It all comes down to Chris Bassitt

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Chris Bassitt #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the San Francisco Giants at RingCentral Coliseum on September 18, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Giants 6-0. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Chris Bassitt #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the San Francisco Giants at RingCentral Coliseum on September 18, 2020 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Giants 6-0. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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The Oakland A’s season now rests on the right arm of Chris Bassitt.

The Oakland A’s have their backs against the wall. Thanks to the impressive outing by Lucas Giolito on Tuesday, they face a do-or-die Game Two on Wednesday. Win, and they survive another day. Lose, and the A’s face a long offseason of wondering ‘What if.’

Perhaps it is fitting that their season will come down to Chris Bassitt. He personifies the A’s scrappy underdog role – a pitcher who really was not supposed to be in this situation in the first place.

It seems like so long ago, but Bassitt was not originally a part of the A’s rotation. That spot was supposed to go to A.J. Puk, the talented but injury prone prospect whose upside is still unimaginably high. But his shoulder never allowed him to get going, forcing the A’s to plug Bassitt into the fifth starter spot.

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That turned out to be for the best for Oakland. While the rest of the rotation either struggled or battled inconsistency, Bassitt blossomed into their best starter in 2020. He produced a 2.29 ERA and a 1.159 WHiP, striking out 55 batters while issuing just 17 walks in his 63 innings. Bassitt was third in the AL in ERA and fifth in pitching bWAR, establishing himself as the A’s ace this season.

But he still has his warts. Bassitt thrives on allowing weak fly balls, which he has somehow managed to do this year despite less than overwhelming stuff. He ranks in the bottom half of the league in exit velocity and hard hit percentage. His pitches do not have much spin at all, and he rarely gets batters to swing and miss.

Now Bassitt is tasked with keeping the A’s World Series aspirations alive. He is facing a lineup that ranked second in the AL in runs and slugging, with their 96 homers pacing the Junior Circuit. It is a tall task, but if anyone on the A’s pitching staff can step up, it may be Bassitt.

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The Oakland A’s season is going to come down to Chris Bassitt. It is fitting that this is the case.

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