Chris Bassitt had every reason to take a moment to pat himself and his teammates on the back Thursday night.
The Mets had just come back to defeat the best team in Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for a second-straight night to take two-of-three at Citi Field. He went toe-to-toe with future Hall-of-Famer ace Clayton Kershaw and the best offensive team in the game, allowing just two runs on six hits with four strikeouts over six innings to help ensure that their lead in the National League East over the defending-champion Atlanta Braves stayed at three games.
“I’ve said this about the Braves, now the Dodgers. It’s not who we play. This is not the playoffs,” a seemingly unimpressed Bassitt said at his locker. “I know it may not be cool for the fans, but it’s just another game. If this was the playoffs, I’d be saying a whole lot of different things… We have a long way to go. A whole month to go. So it’s just a good win against a good team and that’s about it.”
Quintessential Bassitt, who boldly stated after just his second start as a Met back in April that “I don’t care who you are, I’m coming after you. I don’t care about the name on the back of your jersey, I’m coming.”
The 33-year-old right-hander comes as advertised: He eats innings, he works around traffic on the basepaths, and he goes to work with a blue-collar attitude that possesses as little flash as it does hyperbole — as if that doesn’t play right into the hearts of the Flushing faithful.
“What can’t get lost is Chris Bassitt pitched well again,” his manager, Buck Showalter, said. “He had a couple situations he didn’t let get away from him. A starting pitcher pitching six innings against that club is pretty impressive.”
So while most of us believe that the Mets made a strong statement heading into September with the second-best record in the National League while winning a series against a team they could potentially meet in the NLCS, Bassitt maintains the long view.
“There’s so much time left,” he said. “The old thing was like, ‘If you don’t like what’s going on, wait a week and everything changes.’ We have five more weeks? Everything can change by then. It’s a good win against a good team. That’s it.”
What hasn’t been changing is his knack for being a dependable arm that could very well be the Mets’ No. 3 starter in a postseason series behind Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Bassitt is 12-7 with a 3.32 ERA with a team-leading 154.1 innings pitched — 28 more than the second-highest name on that list. His 143 strikeouts rank second behind only Scherzer, as does his WHIP of 1.147.
And his reliability coupled with a low-maintenance aesthetic has helped set up a culture of success in the Mets’ clubhouse.
“If you have selfish players, those kinds of things don’t happen. But we have a lot of guys who care about each other,” he said. “It’s hard to beat us because we can beat you in a lot of ways. I just think it’s more so that the team chemistry we have and what we built here.”