8 Pitches and new rules: How Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt has to adapt to the new game

Toronto Blue Jays v St. Louis Cardinals
Toronto Blue Jays v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

This season marks the first in which pitchers can select what they want to throw using PitchCom. That can be a tricky task when you throw eight different pitches, and that was exemplified in Chris Bassitt’s Blue Jays debut Sunday afternoon.

While a 5.60 ERA in Spring Training might not have quelled Blue Jays fans’ expectations of Bassitt, today's start was not a move in the right direction. The righty was rocked for nine runs (including four homers) in 3.1 innings, as the Jays fell 9-4 to the Cardinals in the final game of their season-opening series.

Bassitt is at his best when he’s limiting hard contact, finishing in the 87th percentile in HardHit% in the league last season per Baseball Savant. That wasn’t the case this afternoon, as St. Louis had nine swings with an exit velocity of over 100mph. The Cardinals’ approach at the plate was a surprise for Bassitt, who when speaking to the media post-game said, “I’m a little bit at a loss for words. I’ve never had a game like this where six different pitches were getting hit hard.”

While not the sole factor affecting his performance, an issue that Bassitt has already addressed this season is MLB’s new Pitch Clock. MLB has given Bassitt the ability to call whatever pitch he wants using PitchCom, but it’s not an easy task for someone with such a wide assortment of options. Choosing what to throw and where in a short period of time is a tricky ask, and it's one that has completely affected the way faces hitters.

In an interview with “Pitching Ninja” Rob Friedman in March, Bassitt stated how he would use the ability to shake off the catcher and manipulate time between pitches to make hitters adjust their game plan at the plate. “Hitters didn't like how often I'd shake pitches off. I started to just do it to throw them off their rhythm. It was more so to break up the batters' routine. If I shook two or three times, the hitter would start to self-doubt themselves."

Now with a set time in between throws, it seems like Bassitt will need a new game plan. He’ll have the opportunity to adjust in his next start, which is scheduled for Friday, April 7th against Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and the Los Angeles Angels.