Has Chris Archer Figured It Out?

By David Hill

As of June 14th, Chris Archer was a 4-8 AAA pitcher with an ERA of 4.81. His WhiP stood at an unimpressive 1.47. He had given up only 62 hits in 76.2 innings of work, but had walked 48 batters and had 3 hit batsmen. Aside from a low hits/IP ratio, Archer had struck out a solid 90 batters in his work, yet that was mitigated to some extent by his lack of control.

Despite his seemingly underwhelming statistics in Durham, Archer was promoted to the Rays, getting his first major league start on June 20th against the Washington Nationals. His first inning was a disaster, as he gave up three hits and three runs, although only one was earned due to an error. However, after that inning, Archer seemed to find something, as he allowed only one walk the rest of the way, striking out seven batters in his six innings of work. His second start against the Kansas City Royals, while not as good as his debut, was still solid, as he allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and a walk in 5.2 innings, striking out seven in the process.

After that start, Archer was sent back down to Durham, where he has continued his momentum. In his five starts since being sent back down, he has gone 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA, giving up only three earned runs in 18.2 innings pitched. More impressively, Archer has allowed only ten hits and six walks while striking out fifteen batters. Whatever clicked for him in the majors appears to have followed Archer back down to Durham.

Sometimes, a player’s improvement cannot be broken down by simply looking at statistics. Looking at Chris Archer, it appears as though he has gained in confidence, as he now knows that he has what it takes to get major league hitters out. Even from the first inning of this very first major league start to the second inning, his demeanor appeared different – he looked like he felt he belonged there, that the majors were not too big for him. In Archer, we are not talking about a soft-tosser who has been considered to have questionable ability from the start. Archer throws in the mid-90’s with his fastball to go along with a nasty slider and a solid changeup. Yet he was always just off and his statistics were never up to par. But now, something has clicked.

Should Chris Archer continue his recent dominance in Durham, it may be in part due to his brief stay in the majors.