A’s SP Chris Bassitt adds new pitch with help from a new teammate, Sergio Romo

Chris Bassitt has been a surprise leader in the A’s pitching rotation, and he has his own surprise in store for opposing hitters this summer.

With the help of new A’s relief pitcher Sergio Romo, Bassitt is adding a slider to repertoire in the spring. Bassitt, known for throwing strikes with a 91 or 92 MPH fastball and a slow, 12-to-6 curveball, says he hopes to stay “one step ahead” of hitters at all times and his new pitch will only help.

But in order to throw it right, you’ve got to talk to a slider expert. Here’s what Bassitt said, per a report from Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I got Romo’s pitch grip,” Bassitt said,“and then I’ve been blowing [Jake] Diekman up left and right, even off the field, like, ‘Hey, how do you throw this pitch? Because I’ve got to figure it out.’”

Romo, new to the A’s via free agency, shared his method willingly. “He saw me struggling on the back fields getting mad with the slider and just kind of showed me his pitch grip,” Bassitt said. “I was like, ‘Dang this is funky but I really like it.’ It kind of just blossomed from there.”

San Francisco Chronicle/Matt Kawahara

Romo made his name with his slider, mostly with the A’s cross-Bay neighbor, the San Francisco Giants. Left-hander Jake Diekman is another slider expert with a different (left-hand) perspective, which certainly helps.

But if Bassitt can mimic Romo’s grip with the slider, he could be even better this season than he was in 2020, when he carried the starting staff, owning a 2.29 ERA in 61 innings pitched.

We could know sooner than later whether Bassitt’s slider will be up to the challenge of the regular season. Bassitt could be manager Bob Melvin’s opening day starter, per Kawahara. If the A’s are to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, Romo’s slider, I mean Bassitt’s slider, could be a major reason why.

(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

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