Chris Bassitt the right choice to start on Opening Day

MESA, AZ - MARCH 10: Chris Bassitt #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Hohokam Park on March 10, 2021 in Mesa, Arizona. The Athletics defeated the Brewers 9-1. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - MARCH 10: Chris Bassitt #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Hohokam Park on March 10, 2021 in Mesa, Arizona. The Athletics defeated the Brewers 9-1. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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At this time last year, Chris Bassitt was not a lock for the Oakland A’s rotation. The A’s were still hoping that A.J. Puk would be healthy enough to take the fifth starter role, a situation that repeats itself today. Bassitt, while he was solid in 2019, was a backup plan at best.

What a difference a year makes. Bassitt has gone from being the A’s backup plan to being their Opening Day starter for 2021.

Chris Bassitt deserves Opening Day nod

There is no question that Bassitt deserves this honor. He was the A’s most consistent starter last season, a rock in the rotation that desperately needed one. It may not be hyperbole to say that the A’s season would have been drastically different if he did not step up and perform as he did.

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He was easily the best player on the A’s last season, his 2.0 bWAR seventh amongst American League pitchers. Bassitt posted a 2.29 ERA and a 1.159 WHiP over his 63 innings, striking out 55 batters with 17 walks. Although he may not have close to the best stuff on the staff, he held opponents to a .233/.288/.371 batting line as he emerged as a solid option for the A’s.

While Bassitt may not appear overly imposing, his ability to generate ground balls has been impressive. He generated over two grounders for every fly ball last year, which is a winning formula with the A’s infield defense.

It is possible that Bassitt will be even better this season. Having a healthy Matt Chapman at the hot corner will be a significant boost defensively. Elvis Andrus may be an upgrade with the glove at short. Even if he does not approach his numbers from last season, Bassitt should still have a strong season.

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The Oakland A’s have named Chris Bassitt as their Opening Day starter. Considering his performance last season, there was no other option.

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