True story: I looked at my fantasy baseball sleepers from last year and decided since I wrote a Ryan Yarbrough sleeper last year, I wouldn’t write one this year, and instead focused on Chris Bassitt, who I wrote as a ‘guy to target’ but necessarily a full sleeper post. Coming off such a weird year, it’s honestly difficult to have my opinions on starters change that dramatically. I’m trying not to cover ground I covered as recently as last year (which might explain my Nathan Eovaldi sleeper), because I was covering that ground as recently as last July/August. Ryan Yarbrough is still 100% a guy I like, and I have no idea why he’s ranked so low in ADP. He doesn’t have huge strikeouts, but he doesn’t walk anyone, and is good for a mid-3 ERA, which is nothing to sneeze at unless you’re allergic to quality starters. See that, I was able to give you a quick Ryan Yarbrough sleeper inside my Chris Bassitt sleeper. Also, one more thing that needs to mentioned prior to talking about Chris Bassitt and after this awkward intro to this sentence, I’m taking 20-30 innings off all my starter projections this year. I don’t know how to handle guys only throwing 40-60 IP other than just dock them all. It’s worth keeping that in mind when drafting starters this year, and looking at projections. It means there’s gonna be a lot of sixth, seventh and maybe even eighth starters on teams getting upwards to 50 IP, because someone is going to need to replace the missing innings. Without reading anything about docking starters this year, it seems to me people are already doing this. Using Gerrit Cole as an example, he usually is projected for 220+ innings, and this year I see him being projected for ~200 IP. My guess is maybe one starter gets 200 IP this year. You’re gonna read something similar from me in my starter rankings, so quickly forget what you just read so it seems new in a few weeks. By the way, my 2021 fantasy baseball rankings start on Monday. All of them are already available on our Patreon. So, what can we expect from Chris Bassitt and what makes him a sleeper?
Last year, Chris Bassitt had 7.9 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 4.49 xFIP, but .359 FIP, due to suppressing home runs and I don’t know if the xFIP is fair to him, because he doesn’t allow home runs in a park that is the size of Yellowstone, and hitters don’t tee up on him. His ERA (2.29) will beat his FIP, SIERA, you name it, because he doesn’t allow solid contact. It’s why I was in on him last year (and Ryan Yarbrough) and still am. Also, you can just go read my Marcus Stroman sleeper again too, because, while the dates might be wrong, it all remains the same. Look for weak contact and you can only go so wrong. Weak contact and strikeouts, and we’re talking about an ace. Bassitt? Aceitt? No. He’s not an ace. He’s not going to sneak into 200 Ks. You need some number three starters that are going to put together solid seasons and stabilize all your junk like Snuggies. Everyone can’t be Sixto Sanchez. This year is going to be very weird for pitchers, because we’re up against a lot more unknown factors. I’m not concerned about us not having a full season (naive? Perhaps.), but pitchers not throwing 150+ IP last year won’t make them all able to go deeper this season. It will more likely make them all need extra rest.
Chris Bassitt operates (without a medical license) primarily with a sinker, which might explain some of the weak contact. He throws the sinker 39.4% of the time, and that’s 18th most in the league. What’s interesting (to me, at least), it wasn’t always his best pitch, but I believe this is helping his somewhat league-average fastball play up. When you’re expecting everything to drop out of the zone, a regular geezer-laned speedball looks like Goose city. He’s also one of the few pitchers I’ve found that has five plus-pitches. His usage charts from year to year is all over the place too, likely because if one thing isn’t working, he can easily go to another pitch. For unstints, his cutter wasn’t working in 2019 so he threw it 13.6% of the time, and it worked in 2020, so he threw it 23% of the time. Also, he didn’t even have a slider in 2019, and last year it had a .125 BAA with 42.9% Whiff rate. Bassitt is one of the few guys you can hang your hat on as being useful, without worrying about upside, while only needing to bench him occasionally for tough road starts. For 2021, I’ll give Chris Bassitt projections of 12-8/3.49/1.18/156 in 162 IP with a chance for more.