The Case of Chris Archer and the Missing Run Support

By David Hill

It seems like every year, there is that one pitcher who cannot catch a break. The numbers will be indicative of a pitcher who should be winning games with the best in the league, but the overall record will be surprisingly poor. For whatever reason, a team seemingly has the one starter who they just cannot score runs to support. This year, for the Rays, that pitcher is Chris Archer.

Looking at the numbers that Chris Archer has posted since his callup on June 1st, coupled with the Rays excellent offensive production this year, it would almost be expected that Archer would have an excellent won-loss record. Heading into last night’s outing, Archer had a 2.93 ERA, with a solid 66 to 32 strikeout to walk rate. His WHiP of 1.091 would rank seventh in the American League if Archer qualified. The ERA? Sixth. Numbers that would seemingly mean that Archer would be on the winning end of most of his 16 starts.

Yet, Archer was only 6-5 heading into last night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. A large part of that had to do with his rough start, where he was 1-3 with a 5.03 ERA in his first four starts. However, the Rays just have not been able to support Archer this season, scoring only 54 runs in his starts, an average of 3.375 runs per game.

No matter how good a pitcher is, it is difficult to win when your team does not score, a lesson that Archer is finding out this season. This also goes to show how much a pitcher’s win total may not be indicative of how good a pitcher has actually performed. Would you rather have Archer with six wins since June, or a pitcher like Jeremy Guthrie, who has won eight games with a 4.45 ERA in that same time frame?

For the year, the Rays have scored just under 4.5 runs per game. Yet, Archer has only had four starts with more than four runs of support. Every year, a pitcher gets victimized by poor run support – this year, it is Chris Archer.