By Jason Wojciechowski on April 25, 2015 at 4:51 PM
The above image does not show Chris Bassitt's first major league pitch, thankfully, as he debuted last year for the White Sox, but it does show the result of his first pitch as an Oakland Athletic. Not great!
Astros 9, A's 3
LP: Kendall Graveman (4 2/3 IP, 6 R, 10 H+BB, 1 K)
Homers: What's the point
Standings: Fourth in the AL West, three games behind Houston, 2 1/2 behind New York for second wild card
Bassitt was all over the place in relief of Kendall Graveman. He threw about 58 percent strikes, but missed badly on a number of pitches and didn't seem to consistently, or really anything close to consistently, hit his targets. Unless his targets were Chris Carter (one HBP), Jed Lowrie (one HBP), and the backstop (the wild pitch described above). Watching the way he pitches, it doesn't feel like a surprise that he can't maintain consistency -- there are a lot of moving parts, some herky-jerky-ness, and just generally a weird set of mechanics to the untrained eye. Once we get a little more data, we should look at Bassitt's release point consistency. Hypothesis: it won't be good.
Graveman had almost exactly the same ball-strike breakdown as Bassitt: 71 pitches, 40 strikes for the former; 71 pitches, 41 strikes for the latter. Graveman only walked one, but that's because he put a lot of meatballs into the zone for the Astros to whack. The pitch to Altuve was flat-out egregious.
The question 16 1/3 innings into his Oakland career, is whether Graveman should even be in the major leagues. The A's could give any number of players a shot in the rotation: Bassitt, Jesse Chavez, and Arnold Leon are all available right now, and Sean Nolin will presumably pitch again at some point.
This is all a short-term problem, though, because in a month, at the outside, Jarrod Parker should be back, and, as underwhelming as Drew Pomeranz nearly always is, he's at least not putting up complete stinkers every time he takes the mound, so Graveman looks at this point like the pitcher who will have to head out to Nashville to make room.
The other part of the question is where, missing Ben Zobrist for a month-plus, Coco Crisp for another month, and Sean Doolittle for some unclear amount of time, the A's should fall on the competition-development spectrum. This isn't to say the A's should pack it in, trade Scott Kazmir and Tyler Clippard, and move on with their lives, but it is to say that, given the relative upsides of Graveman and, say, Leon, the A's might be justified in asking not "who gives us an extra percentage point or two chance to win in May 2015" but instead "what course of action is most likely to help Graveman reach his mid-rotation upside for the next six years?"
The A's now have to choose between Mark Canha, Cody Ross, and Craig Gentry in the outfield against right-handed pitchers. Canha's hit well to start the year, but that's not a great set of options. Melvin went with Ross today. It was fine except for his dropped fly ball in left field. It wasn't an easy play (that was Reddick's horrifying dropped fly earlier in the same inning) but I'm completely comfortable calling the play an error and not a hit, if we're going to continue to insist on these silly distinctions.
Max Muncy's first big-league hit was a solid single up the middle. Good job Max Muncy.