After calling up Arnold Leon for Wednesday’s game in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics have optioned him back to Triple-A Nashville. They have now called up Chris Bassitt to be their long reliever in the absence of Jesse Chavez.
Chavez is starting Thursday’s game against the Angels while right-handed starter Jesse Hahn is recovering from a blister on his right middle finger.
The A’s are certainly shuffling around relievers and quickly. So quickly, in fact, that they are really messing with these pitchers schedules (in my opinion).
Leon, who was supposedly called-up for long relief, pitched the ninth inning for the Athletics on Wednesday. He had been scheduled to start in Nashville on Wednesday as well. Now he heads back to the Nashville Sounds according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee.
Leon is heading back down tonight. Melvin really glad to have gotten him in game.
— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) April 23, 2015
Leon allowed a run, two hits and a walk in his big league debut. He struck out one batter and got reigning American League MVP Mike Trout to fly out to center. Not a great outing but not a terrible one. So why send him right back down and keep messing with the pitching schedules? That is a question the ball club has yet to answer. What we do know is that Bassitt will replace Leon on the Athletics roster. Bassitt was scheduled to start for Nashville on Friday but will now be in the Athletics’ bullpen on Thursday.
What, if any, more last minute moves the team makes in the coming days remains to be seen (See what I mean? It’s a little confusing for the Nashville Sounds having pitchers ready, right? But I guess that’s what happens when the big league club comes a-calling.) Ryan Cook and the ambidextrous Pat Venditte might be the next options for the Athletics’ bullpen.
Another question you may have is “why not Barry Zito?’ Thankfully that question has an easy answer. Zito is not currently on the A’s 40-man roster and bringing him up from Triple-A would require the A’s to designate someone else for assignment which means potentially losing that player which is not the best way to go when you are just looking for someone for long relief. There are other reasons for not using Zito such as his poor performances thus far in Nashville and his request to not be called up as a reliever, a request the club has been said to be honoring.
Hopefully for Oakland long relief will not be necessary. Chavez got plenty of experience as a starter in 2014. He was 8-8 for Oakland in 21 starts and 32 total appearances in 2014 and posted a 3.45 ERA. He is used to switching from long relief to being a starter and his ERA obviously did not suffer for it.
As for Bassitt, he was acquire from the Chicago White Sox as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade. He struggled against left-handed hitters during the spring but has fared well with them since arriving in Nashville. He has pitched 16 innings thus far for Nashville, posting a 3.36 ERA. Lefties have batted just .211/.268/.316 against him in 42 plate appearances.
It should be interesting to see if more changes are made to the A’s bullpen staff in the coming days with former All-Star Cook and Venditte waiting in the wings, but you never know with this team. Bassitt could remain for the rest of the year. What happens next is anyone’s guess.