Athletics righty Chris Bassitt is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, the club announced (h/t to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, on Twitter). That had seemed the likely result, though player and team were holding out hope of avoiding a full replacement of his ulnar collateral ligament.
Bassitt, who came to Oakland as part of the Jeff Samardzija swap, had a promising campaign in 2015. Over 86 innings, working mostly from the rotation, Bassitt pitched to a 3.56 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 to go with a 44.5% groundball rate. While he may have been a bit fortunate to allow only a 5.7% HR/FB rate, the overall results had Bassitt’s stock trending up.
Things didn’t break right this year, however. He allowed nine walks in 19 1/3 spring innings, but had three solid outings to open the regular season. But Bassitt was knocked around in his final two starts, allowing 13 earned runs on 19 hits and five walks in just 8 2/3 frames. A velocity drop in his most recent appearance, along with other issues Bassitt experienced, led to a closer look and the diagnosis of a UCL tear.
Entering the season, Bassitt had a very slightly elevated statistical risk of needing a TJ procedure, according to the research of MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum. Certainly, nothing about his situation raised any obvious red flags. But as Woodrum explains, the numbers paint nothing approaching a complete picture of the true risk, and obviously any pitcher can end up needing a new UCL.
Fortunately for Oakland, there is a good bit of rotation depth on hand. Top prospect Sean Manaea looks set to receive a lengthy trial, righty Jesse Hahn is now back in the majors, and Henderson Alvarez is on the mend from shoulder surgery.