Chris Bassitt will start Game 1 of the A's American League Division Series against the Houston Astros on Monday, manager Bob Melvin announced Sunday. Melvin also announced Sean Manaea will start on the mound in Game 2.
Bassitt has been an ace for the A's this season. The veteran right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA over 11 regular-season starts. With the A's season on the line, he came up huge in the clutch to beat the Chicago White Sox in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series. He allowed just one earned run over seven innings and struck out five in a win-or-go-home game.
Bassitt has only allowed two earned runs over his last five starts, 33 2/3 innings.
The Astros also aren't an unfamiliar team to Bassitt by any means. This will be the fourth time he faces them this season. He's 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA against the Astros this year.
Melvin said that he offered an extra day of rest for Bassitt, but the starter prefers his routine of pitching every fifth day. The manager also believes Bassitt earned the reward of starting Game 1 after his performance against the White Sox in his playoff debut.
When Bassitt last faced the Astros, he tossed seven shutout innings on Sept. 7. That started a dominant September that saw him win the AL Pitcher of the Month. But he and his manager aren't looking into how well Oakland played against Houston this season.
The A's won seven of their 10 games against the Astros this year, propelling them to an AL West title. That was the regular season, though. This is a whole different ballgame.
"I don't know that it's an advantage," Melvin said. "Playing well against them this year was something we needed to do. It doesn't guarantee anything. I think it just confirmed that we were a better team than maybe we were in past years when they took the season series from us. Doesn't guarantee anything."
Said Bassitt: "I'm just trying to be myself. I'm not worried what they can do with their lineup, honestly. I know what they can do as a lineup, I know what good of hitters they have. I'm just trying to be myself, I'm not thinking much about what they can do."
Manaea had an up-and-down regular season, finishing with a 4-3 record and 4.50 ERA in 11 starts. The left-hander last pitched on Sept. 23 when he allowed three earned in six innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Melvin almost went with Manaea in Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series and wants to get the lefty back on track after a long layoff.
"We want to get him going as quickly as we can too, based on the fact that he was pitching really well at the end of the season," Melvin said Sunday to reporters.
Manaea went 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA over four starts in September. It was by far his best month of the season. He also has revenge on his mind after giving up four earned runs in just two innings when the A's fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card Game last season.
"Yeah, he wants another one," Melvin said. "He's quite a competitor. For a jovial guy, he gets fired up to pitch. He wanted another one, he wanted to pitch in the last series. He understood how we were going about it but was itching to pitch. Anytime you have a memory like that, you want to get back and erase that.
"... It's important for him to pitch again and I think he's ready for it."
Melvin wouldn't announce any starters past the first two games. Much of that will depend on who he uses out of the bullpen in what could be five games in five days. Melvin mentioned starters Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Mike Minor and Mike Fiers all as starters who could be used out of the bullpen.