The Future is Now for Chris Archer

By David Hill

Last season, during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer performed reasonably well in his opportunities. Although his 1-3 record with a 4.60 ERA may not look overly impressive, he struck out 36 batters in just 29.1 innings of work. Armed with an excellent fastball/slider combination, he has consistently been rated as one of the Rays best prospects, ranking 36th by Baseball America and 46th by prior to this season.

Even though he battled for the Rays fifth starting spot in Spring Training, Archer found himself back in Durham to start the year. He has been good, going 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 50 innings, but has not been as dominant as he was last year. Regardless of his performance for Durham, Archer has been called up for the start on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians, where he may potentially be setting himself up for not only the rest of the season, but for his future as well.

When talking about Archer coming up, Rays Manager Joe Maddon had an interesting quote, saying that it essentially “Seems like we’re giving everybody an audition for later in the season.” While that sentence is taken somewhat out of context, it does provide some interesting insight as to the Rays present mindset. With Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome having already made starts for the Rays this season, Archer will become the latest prospect to be given a chance to see what he can do.

As the Rays have had problems filling in that spot in the rotation since David Price got hurt, the ‘open audition’ certainly makes sense. Not only does it allow them the flexibility to adjust their starting rotation, as they did against the Yankees, but it allows Maddon and the Rays coaches to see these pitchers in game situations. If one of these pitchers can impress, then it could go a long way towards solidifying their major league career.

For Chris Archer, he has a chance to build upon his potential. He has been considered to be a major part of the Rays future, either in the rotation or in the bullpen. However, if he is able to put together strong performances while he remains in Tampa, that future could be now.