Rays Spring Training Game 5 Preview: Chris Archer Shoots First Arrows

By Robbie Knopf

In the Tampa Bay Rays’ first four spring training games, we got to see just about everyone. But among the healthy, there was one player who had yet to take the field: Chris Archer. Coming off an excellent rookie year, the 25 year old Archer hopes for even better results in 2013, and that starts at 1:05 PM against the Boston Red Sox at Jetblue Park in Fort Myers.

1. David DeJesus, LF
2. Yunel Escobar, SS
3. James Loney, 1B
4. Wil Myers, DH
5. Matt Joyce, RF
6. Logan Forsythe, 3B
7. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
8. Jose Molina, C
9. Kevin Kiermaier, CF

Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer

The thing to watch with Archer today is going to be his changeup. Archer has two dominant pitchers in his fastball and slider, but there were times when the league was able to adjust to him because he could not mix in his third pitch effectively. There were a couple games where Archer’s changeup looked like a swing-and-miss pitch, and his second year, that needs to happen more often. Archer’s slider is basically a given at this point–expect him to stick to mostly fastballs and changeups as he hopes to get 2014 off to a good start.

The Rays are already starting to fall into patterns with their lineups, but one player to watch is Logan Forsythe. Forsythe is back out there one day after struggling in his first game at first base, and now he will play perhaps the most important position for him this season, third base. The Rays need a backup capable of playing a strong third base with Sean Rodriguez not having the arm strength to be a consistent defender there, and Forsythe has to prove he can be that player. One thing that differentiates Forsythe from Rodriguez is that he is not as good of a defender. In the spring, Forsythe has to prove that his defense is not a liability and that his bat makes him worth big league at-bats.

Also getting a start is Kevin Kiermaier, who hopes games like this alongside big leaguers will be in store for him before the year is through. We are still waiting for Brandon Guyer to do anything at the plate, and every game he does not makes Kiermaier’s long odds of making the team just a little bit better.

Behind Archer, we will see Jake McGee, Mark Lowe, Brad Boxberger, Nate Karns, Enny Romero, and Mike Montgomery. Note that there are only seven pitchers listed, so don’t be surprised if Archer and Montgomery throw a couple of innings each. For McGee, we will be watching his secondary pitches, but the player who may be most interesting to watch is Brad Boxberger. In his first game, Boxberger was working on his slider and managed to record a pair of strikeouts with it. If he can improve his slider to go along with his strong fastball-changeup combination, could the Rays really start him back in the minor leagues?

Unfortunately for everyone, this game is literally available nowhere but the stadium as neither team will broadcast it on TV or radio. However, check back at Rays Colored Glasses later today for the recap and find out what you missed.