The Oakland Athletics welcomed back All-Star pitcher Chris Bassitt on Thursday, activating him from the injured list just a month after . That incident necessitated surgery to repair facial fractures, and Bassitt recent tweeted out a couple of graphic images of what he looked like following the injury.
Bassitt looked like himself on the mound, throwing three scoreless innings while striking out four and allowing just one hit and one walk. He was removed after 48 pitches because he's still working his way back, stamina-wise. If he stays on normal rest, perhaps next time out he can work into the 65-pitch range.
Bassitt threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Monday, his fourth time throwing off a mound since the surgery. Over the weekend Bassitt even threw two simulated innings with no screen. After the outing Thursday, it seems like maybe the A's are working him toward deeper outings, though they previously expressed that they just weren't sure what his role would be.
"That's something we need to talk about," A's manager Bob Melvin told Shayna Rubin on Monday. "How long we think he can go and whether or not it should be in a starting role or coming out of the bullpen."
Given the long layoff and the fact the A's only have 10 games remaining, there isn't enough time to stretch Bassitt out as a regular starter. He was their best starter prior to the injury, but if there's not enough time to stretch him out, then there's not enough time to stretch him out. Bassitt could make a greater impact pitching more frequently as a short reliever.
The A's arguably have a more pressing need in the bullpen anyway. They've experienced far too many late-inning meltdowns lately. The kind of meltdowns that cost them wins and pushed them outside the postseason picture. The rotation hasn't been great the last few weeks (4.47 ERA since Bassitt's injury) but the bullpen has been wretched. Bassitt would definitely help there.
Bassitt, 32, had a 3.22 ERA in 151 innings prior to the injury. He has some big-league bullpen experience, so it wouldn't be an entirely new role for him. It seems as though they want him to start, though, even if the outings are brief.
Either way, getting Bassitt back on the mound would help the A's during their postseason push and he showed as much on Thursday. And if nothing else, his return is a wonderful feel-good story following such a scary injury.
The Athletics come into Friday 4 games behind the Yankees for the second American League wild card spot. Here's the up-to-date playoff picture.