Chris Bassitt’s Looking to Get Back on Track For the Blue Jays

Ahead of tonight's matchup vs. the Yankees, Chris Bassitt talks about pitching to his strengths, pregame bullpen mindset and more.

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 9: Chris Bassitt #40 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at the Rogers Centre on April 9, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Sousa/Getty Images)

TORONTO — Chris Bassitt will toe the rubber on Monday night at Rogers Centre, hoping to not only give his Toronto Blue Jays a solid start in a key division series against the New York Yankees, but also hoping to shake off what has been a slow start to his 2024 campaign.

Through his first three starts of the 2024 campaign, the 35-year-old right-hander has a 5.06 ERA/5.44 FIP/1.813 WHIP. Though it’s early, those numbers are something to watch, especially since opposing batters are currently hitting .308 against him.

However, the Yankees could provide a tonic for what has ailed Bassitt in 2024. In his career, he has made three starts against the Bronx Bombers, posting a 0.87 ERA over 20.2 frames.

That includes when he faced them twice in 2023, scattering eight hits over 14.2 scoreless innings while striking out 19.

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Bassitt has made a career of not only having a unique arsenal of pitches (his Baseball Savant page details the eight pitches he uses during the course of a season), but also being able to keep batters constantly guessing because of his ability to mix them up.

Last season, in his first year with the Blue Jays, he tied for the American League lead with 33 starts and logged a 3.60 ERA/4.28 FIP/1.175 WHIP while facing a AL-high 826 batters and placing 10th in AL Cy Young voting.

With a varied pitch mix and MLB hitters having more data than ever at their disposal, I asked Bassitt about his game plan heading into a matchup and how much the “feel” he develops in the bullpen before the game may change that.

“I’d say at this stage of my career, I kind of have a good idea what’s working, what’s not working before the game starts,” Bassitt told me. “Obviously, there are some outliers. Sometimes when you think you have a pitch, it’s really good. Then all of a sudden you show up that day, it’s not there. But overall, I’d say you kind of walk into that start knowing what’s good and what’s bad and just go from there.

“I don’t try to focus on trying to keep them all super sharp. It’s more so just making sure they’re usable, so to speak. So, yeah, it’s definitely easier in the aspect of I can mix speeds and I can mix locations. I can mix kind of shapes of what you like or don’t like.”

While Bassitt may have a variety of pitches at his disposal, his sinker has been the pitch he has thrown the most not only this season (44.9 percent of the time) but also the most since 2018. However, batters are hitting .321 against it this season compared to just .220 last season.

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Even though batters may be connecting at a better rate (and higher exit velocity (92.7 mph so far this season versus 87.6 in 2023)), expect plenty of the sinker to come into play against the Yankees on Monday.

“I always basically try to stick to my strengths. And if they can beat my strengths, then good on them,” Bassitt said. “I feel like if you go away from your strengths and you get beat, it’s kind of hard to live with, but if you get beat trying to pitch your game, I think it’s a lot easier to accept that rather than the other way around.”