Chris Archer’s been wearing the stirrups from the get go in his career..
(Photo Courtesy: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)
Sunday afternoon the high socks and right arm of the Rays’ Chris Archer was at it again, earning his seventh win of the season in Tampa Bay’s 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners. Seven innings, six hits, 1 unearned run, 11 strikeouts and no walks again. MLB does recognize gaudy pitching stats accumulated against Mariners’ bats so that means Archer is the first pitcher since 1900 to have three straight games of 10+Ks and ZERO walks. You don’t need a degree a sabermetrics to understand a 38/0 strikeout to walk ratio is infinitely awesome. Archer also has the best high socks in the business, sorry Sonny Gray you’ve only been doing it since April 2015. Archer easily wins on longevity.
Editor’s note: I’m also not sure you can get a degree in sabermetrics, but Boston University keeps reminding me on Facebook about their Sabermetrics 101 online class that’s supposed to be free and starts July 7th.
Anyway, Archer ‘s epic run breaks down as follows:
May 27th vs Seattle – ND – 8 IP, 2 Hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K
June 7th at Seattle – Win – 7 IP, 6 Hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K
In his May 22nd start, Archer beat the Oakland Athletics by allowing one earned run over 5.1 IP with eight Ks. He did issue four free passes in that start. The only AL West team not sent home crying by Archer was the Texas Rangers on May 7th. He struck out eight in just 3.1 IP, but gave up five runs in that loss.
The 26-year old Archer sits at 7-4 with a 1.84 ERA after thirteen starts. Most importantly the Rays sit 1.5 games behind the first place New York Yankees in the AL East following their recent 7-2 run on the road. Prior to this stretch the Rays had lost six games in a row. Five of which came at home so nobody noticed. OK, maybe about 13,000 people noticed.
108 strikeouts compared to 20 walks. He leads the majors in strikeouts by three over the Indians Corey Kluber. To be fair, #Klubot won’t make his 13th start until Tuesday. The elite performance for the fourth year starter isn’t just a recent phenomenon. Following a modest 5.2 IP, 3 ER performance on Opening Day, Archer blanked the opposition in his next four starts. It resulted in a scoreless streak spanning from the 5th inning of his first start until the 3rd inning of fifth start. 30 scoreless innings pitched to get the ERA down to 0.84.
Breaking it down a little further, Archer has a 2.29 FIP meaning his current 1.84 ERA is pretty legit. Regressing from 1.84 to 2.29 wouldn’t really be regressing. He’s having an AL Cy Young type season, although he’s got competition as we must recognize the Athletics’ Sonny Gray (7-2, 1.65 ERA) and the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel (7-1, 1.85 ERA).
Archer isn’t being overworked in the process, even though the Rays are leaning on him heavily because of their many pitching injuries. 113 pitches has been his max and that happened on Sunday. Avoid walks and even if you record a bunch of strikeouts you can pitch seven innings in under 110 pitches. Archer didn’t quite do that Sunday, but he has done it in six of thirteen starts with a low of 84 pitches over seven innings in his second start of the year against the Marlins.
Archer has enough history to reflect. He made four starts as a rookie in 2012 and then emerged as a productive starter in 2013-2014.
2013 – 9-7, 3.22 ERA in 23 starts. (4.07 FIP)
2014 – 10-9, 3.33 ERA in 32 starts. (3.39 FIP)
His 2014 was more valuable than 2013. The walk rate was 3.3 last year, but that’s been trimmed to 2.2 in 2015. The K/9 was 8.0 last year, but that’s received a huge bump to 11.7 this season.
Archer is currently the resident ace in Tampa. A tip of the cap goes to productive #2 starter Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 2.47 ERA), but he left Friday’s start against Seattle after experiencing discomfort in his left oblique. A DL stint is a strong possibility. The rest of the rotation is some kind of Nate Karns-Alex Colome-Erasmo Ramirez stew with a dash of Matt Andriese (3 GS) and a pinch of Steve Geltz (1 GS). The Rays pitching pot most notably got stirred up when David Price was traded to Detroit last July in a deal that netted the Rays Drew Smyly.
Matt Moore is still recovering from TJS. He was 17-4 for the Rays, but that was in 2013. Moore’s making rehab starts and should return to the Rays’ rotation later this summer. Alex Cobb, who was even a little better than Archer in 2013-2014, never made it to the mound in 2015 and finally had TJS in May. Drew Smyly made only three starts this season before a torn left labrum sent him to the DL. We may or may not see him again late in the season.
Also factor in Joe Maddon’s not the one holding the ladle anymore. The executive chef in 2015 is first time big league manager Kevin Cash. Four games separate the top from bottom in the AL East, but 31-27 should leave a good taste in the mouths of Rays’ fan even if the ingredients in the starting rotation keep changing. If only the locals would come out and smell what the Cash is cooking.