Rays Notes: Jeremy Hellickson To DL, Chris Archer to Make MLB Debut

By Robbie Knopf

Unbelievable. Another injury has struck the Rays, this time sending Jeremy Hellickson to the DL with shoulder fatigue. J.B. Long, the Rays correspondent at MLB Network had the full story on Twitter.

Hellickson struggled mightily in his last two starts, posting just a 10.13 ERA in just 8 combined innings with 8 walks against just 3 strikeouts after posting a 2.69 ERA with 49 strikeouts against 22 walks in his previous 11 starts. Maybe this “shoulder fatigue” is the explanation for that. Hopefully Hellickson does really miss just 2 starts and we’ll see him back in the big leagues soon.

The other side of this is Chris Archer, who will be making his major league debut. Archer’s numbers at Triple-A this season are pretty underwhelming- he has gone 4-8 with a 4.81 ERA, 90 strikeouts (10.6 K/9), but 45 walks (5.3 BB/9), and 4 home runs allowed (0.5 HR/9) in 14 starts and 76.2 IP. But he has been better in his last 10 starts, going 3-5 with a 3.84 ERA, 75 strikeouts (11.5 K/9), 29 walks (4.4 BB/9), and 3 home runs allowed (0.5 HR/9) in 58.2 IP.

Archer is a right-handed pitcher with electric stuff who the Rays acquired as part of the Matt Garza deal. He features a low to mid-90’s fastball that touches 97 MPH with late bite, and he also throws a dynamic slider from the same arm slot that forces swings and misses galore when he can control it. He also throws a changeup with some sink that he has been working on for a while. When Archer has some idea of where his pitches are going, he can dominate hitters. The Hellickson injury certainly accelerated Archer’s timetable, but he showed some signs of decent control of late, which is all he needs to succeed. Even if Archer is far from seizing the number two starter upside that he has the ability to get to, he has the ability to be a solid back-of-the-rotation option for the Rays for the time being, and if the Rays are lucky, his control will be on and he will blow hitters away. Good luck to Archer in his major league debut on Wednesday and moving forward, and hopefully he can give the Rays some solid or better performances to hold down the fort.

In one other news item, of course I was wrong and the Rays replaced Brandon Gomes on the roster with outfielder Rich Thompson. On Tuesday, the Rays could make another call-up with Archer not coming to the big leagues until Wednesday and we’ll have to see if they get a relief arm who they could use on Tuesday and then send back down. Maybe now they could go with Dane De La Rosa or Bryan Augenstein as I mentioned at the link above. It has been tumultuous times on the Rays’ roster, and hopefully the Rays can get their key players healthy and stop this seemingly never-ending carousel.