Chris Bassitt gets the nod to start on Saturday
BY DAVID JUST Staff Reporter August 28, 2014 11:30PM
Updated: September 30, 2014 6:32AM
Chris Bassitt won’t have to wait until September to make his big-league debut.
The White Sox plan to start the 6-5, 210-pound right-hander Saturday night against the Tigers, two days before rosters expand.
Bassitt has been a sleeper in the Sox’ system since being drafted in the 16th round in 2011, but he’ll have a big wake-up call.
“I saw him in spring training,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He had a live arm. We were impressed with him then. Now you get a chance to see him up here against some good hitters.”
Bassitt, 25, was almost exclusively a reliever in college and the minors before the 2013 season. A move to full-time starting duties seems to have paid off.
Bassitt is 3-1 with a 1.56 ERA in six starts at Class AA Birmingham. He has struck out 36 batters and walked 14 in 342/3 innings.
Baseball America ranked Bassitt as the No. 15 prospect in the organization at the end of the 2013 season after he went 11-4 with a 3.08 ERA between Birmingham and Class A Winston-Salem.
The game Saturday is the nightcap of a split doubleheader, so the Sox can add Bassitt as a 26th man without making a corresponding roster move. He’ll have to come off the roster after the game, but Ventura said Bassitt will return when the roster expands Monday.
“It’s an opportunity for him,” Ventura said. “He’s had more time and seasoning down there that I think this is just the right time to do it for him, and he’s earned it.”
Bassitt will be an appetizer for Sox fans itching to get a look at Carlos Rodon, who could be joining the team just a few days later. Rodon has pitched seven innings at Class AAA Charlotte and struck out 11 hitters.
Like Bassitt, if Rodon is promoted next month, it won’t be to stand by and observe. Ventura said anyone who joins the team next month will play.
“They’re usually a little wide-eyed and excited,” said John Danks, who was the hard-luck loser in the Sox’ 3-2 defeat Thursday against the Indians. “It’ll be fun. It’s a good opportunity for those guys, and you hope they help us win some games.”
Bassitt’s promotion will make for an intriguing day of pitching matchups at U.S. Cellular Field.
Cy Young hopefuls Max Scherzer and Chris Sale are set to square off in the early game. Scherzer is tied for first in the American League with 15 wins and ranks third with 209 strikeouts. Sale will be looking for his first win this month despite giving up only five combined runs in his last four starts.
Bassitt’s counterpart on the mound will be Kyle Ryan, 22, who also will be making his major-league debut.
Ryan, a left-hander, was a 12th-round pick in 2010 and is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts for Class AAA Toledo.
The pressure should be significantly greater for Ryan, whose Tigers are vying with the Mariners for the second wild-card spot.
The Sox, on the other hand, have the unwanted benefit of stress-free baseball, perfect for rolling out the fresh faces of the future.
“They’re here to get some time and see what they can do,” Ventura said.