No one felt the loss of New York Mets catcher James McCann more than starting pitcher Chris Bassitt.
In his first year with the club after coming over from the Oakland Athletics, the veteran right-hander was off to a blistering start on the hill — going 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA over his first seven outings.
But then his catcher in McCann went down with a wrist injury that required surgery and the nosedive commenced.
Working with backup backstops in Tomas Nido and Patrick Mazeika, Bassitt allowed 22 earned runs in his next five starts for a swollen 7.62 ERA during that stretch as the battery mates appeared lost in translation.
“When it came to pitching itself, I didn’t make many adjustments, it was more so — this was 100% all on me — me and Nido were just completely off,” Bassitt said on Tuesday night. “Not on the same page at all… The more and more I fought, the worse I did.”
So the 33-year-old stopped fighting it and decided to link up with Nido to iron out the kinks.
“I was able to completely break down what was going on,” he said. “We spent the last week getting to know each other and bettering the game… It’s a lot easier to compete out there.
“I apologized to Nido and Mazeika because I feel like it was such an obvious thing to do and I didn’t do it.”
“It goes both ways,” Nido added. “We’re both to blame there. Thankfully it’s in the past and we learn from that. It’s better to happen now.”
The reconciliation showed on Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers as Bassitt had his finest outing of the season and one of his best as a pro, going eight scoreless innings while allowing just three hits on seven strikeouts in the Mets’ 4-0 win.
He managed to do so on 109 pitches, facing the minimum through four innings while getting three key inning-ending double plays to escape the limited trouble he ran into. The ability to mow through Milwaukee also saw the game completed in just two hours and 39 minutes.
“I think everyone was happy that the game wasn’t four hours long,” Bassitt joked. “I don’t know how many [shake-offs of Nido’s calls] I averaged the last three weeks but I knew it was a lot. This was a lot more normal than what had happened the last three weeks.”
“Relieved more than anything.”
Just another example of how far a little extra work goes in Major League Baseball.
“It’s a lot easier when he knows what I like to do in every count,” he continued. “I really regret not doing it a couple weeks ago. I just didn’t know. I hadn’t really dealt with this kind of thing. I made a key judgment error the last couple weeks… It was freeing.”
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