Chris Bassitt resigning from pitch-calling duties amid recent skid
Photo credit:Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
By Thomas Hall2 months ago
If you want something done correctly, you better do it yourself, right? Well, not exactly. At least, that isn’t the case when it comes to pitch calling for Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Chris Bassitt.
After putting together an impressive run of starts from early April to June, Bassitt’s excellence has caught a bit of a snag recently, as he’s struggled in three consecutive starts dating back to June 13 versus the Baltimore Orioles. Since then, the 34-year-old has surrendered at least four runs and five hits each start, failing to complete four innings in two of those outings.
Lefties, in particular, have been the right-hander’s kryptonite so far this season – an issue that reared its ugly head Friday night against the Oakland Athletics, who deployed seven left-handed hitters. And they ambushed him early, piling up a trio of runs in the first inning, sparked by JJ Bleday’s two-run blast over the right field wall.
That is when Bassitt felt it was time to pull the trigger. Thus, upon returning for the top of the second, he handed over pitch-calling duties to catcher Danny Jansen, allowing the veteran righty to focus on execution and his delivery to the plate.
Bassitt’s decision, meanwhile, worked beautifully as he retired the next six batters he faced, biding time for Toronto’s offence to respond to Oakland’s first-inning explosion, scoring a trio of runs themselves in the bottom of the third. But that feeling of redemption was only temporary.
The former Athletic grinded over his next two innings, ultimately giving the lead back to his old team after allowing a sac fly from Bleday, ending his day after five innings and 83 pitches, raising his ERA on the year to 4.32.
“I’m obviously struggling a little bit right now, and less is more,” Bassitt said to reporters following Friday’s disappointing outing, including MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson. “I’m not sure if I’m tipping the way I’m sequencing pitches. I’m not sure really what’s going on right now. It’s just a matter of less is more. I think it really went well. I think at times I’m thinking too much on the mound rather than competing. It’s a funky dynamic.”
Bassitt’s days calling his pitches via PitchCom are likely finished, at least for the time being, especially given the brief success he enjoyed once Jansen assumed the reigns. If things progress positively, though, the shift could become permanent.
Whether his pitch sequencing became too predictable or if he was overthinking on the mound, or a combination of both, it was time for a change.
Tweaking Bassitt’s game plan should prove beneficial when it comes to locating his pitches more effectively. But, from the Blue Jays’ perspective, they’re far more interested in how it may reduce how much time he requires between pitches.
“It was just tempo-related, really,” said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. “They sit and talk with [pitching coach] Pete [Walker] at length about the lineup and I think it just came down to what the pace of the first inning was and trying to get them going a little bit quicker.”
The main concern, of course, is finding an answer versus lefties, who are hitting .283/.370/.602 with 13 home runs against Bassitt this season. Part of the solution must involve refining his cutter’s location, as left-handers are slugging .730 against it – an increase of nearly .400 points from last season.
For a pitcher with eight weapons, however, there will not be a shortage of options at his disposal as he searches to counteract his recent woes.
Bassitt’s next opportunity to do so will come next Wednesday versus the San Francisco Giants, who will likely send out a full complement of lefties in hopes of replicating Oakland’s formula.
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