Rays News

Tampa Bay Rays: Archer Nearing Astonishing Loss Record

By Althea Pashman
Feb 21, 2016; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) pitches at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2016; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) pitches at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /
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Considered the ace of the Tampa Bay Rays at the start of the season could lead the league in losses, strikeouts and reach 200 innings pitched.

At the start of the season, Chris Archer was considered the ace of the Tampa Bay Rays staff as he was coming off the 2015 season in which he was an All-Star, was fifth in the Cy Young voting and second in the league in strikeouts.

Expectations over the offseason had increased based upon his performance in 2015 and Archer, being the scholarly and very likeable person he is took it all in stride.

In addition, during last year’s postseason he did pre-game analysis which received great reviews and he become the ultimate voice of the Tampa Bay Rays in regards to their trip this past spring to Cuba.

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Nonetheless, his extra-curricular activities could be part of Archer’s demise this season.

Too much on his plate and not wanting to share the burden causing significant distractions which have led to this unprecedented season of pure disaster.

Archer suffered his team and the majors leading 17th loss of the season in Boston’s 2-1 win of the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

For the most part, a starter usually pitches badly from day one to lose 20-games and let’s be realistic that there really isn’t any difference from say losing 17, 18 or 19 games.

The bottom line is that it’s happened mostly because of his inconsistencies.

The Tampa Bay Rays have 38-games remaining on the season and Archer is likely to make seven more starts.

One more loss and he ties the club record of 18 set in 2002 by Tanyon Sturtze – should he record three more losses which would give him 20 and he becomes the first pitcher since Detroit’s Mike Maroth lost 21 in 2003.

The outing against Boston wasn’t all that bad, as he allowed just two runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

However, his pitch count reached 109 and exited after five innings, his shortest outing since May 22.

"“He did his job to give us an opportunity to win,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’d like to see him go deeper in the ballgame, but credit the Red Sox lineup for some of that.”"

The problem though wasn’t all Archer’s fault as mental errors by Tampa Bay Rays outfielder’s Steven Souza Jr., Kevin Kiermaier and infielder Tim Beckham played key parts in the loss.

Souza Jr.’s wild throw to third base in an attempt to nab David Ortiz who was trying to go from first to third on Mookie Betts single landed in Boston’s dugout, thus allowing Ortiz to score, which turned out to be the game-winning run.

"“Playing it in my head as the play was going, I knew the ball wasn’t hit very hard but I knew David Ortiz wasn’t a very good runner, and I thought I could sneak one in there,” said Souza Jr."

In the fourth, Beckham opened the inning with a single and on a missed bunt by Logan Morrison, Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon picked off Beckham at first on a play in which he was originally called safe.

Boston challenged the call; it was then overturned leaving the Tampa Bay Rays with no runners on and one out.

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"“I saw Logan square around and he poked at it,” Beckham said. “For some reason, I thought he got it down. Mistake on my end.”"

The final miscue of the night was made in the eighth inning when Kiermaier tried to stretch a sure double into a triple.

Betts threw a strike to Travis Shaw at third, nailing Kiermaier to end what could have been a possible rally.

"“It’s going to take a perfect throw to throw me out,” Kiermaier said. In this moment, he made an absolutely perfect throw. I would not change anything. I’d do it again. I tip my hat to him.”"

To his credit, Archer has made changes to his mechanics and has pitched much better since the All-Star break.

But the inconsistencies still remain despite lowering his ERA to 4.18 (the lowest since opening day) and owning a 3.06 ERA since the break.

Amazingly, Archer continues to strike batters out and with the six against the Red Sox he increased his American League lead to 192, 11 more than Detroit’s Justin Verlander.

It also extended his career-high of consecutive starts with at least six strikeouts to eight.

Major League wise, Archer ranks fourth behind the Nationals Max Scherzer (217), Miami’s Jose Fernandez (204) and the Giant’s Madison Bumgarner (202).

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In the end, the loss snapped Archer’s streak of consecutive starts of completing at least six innings at eight, which would have been one away from tying his career high.

On the flip side it was just the second time over his past 17 starts in which he did not complete six innings.

Over the years numerous pitchers have toyed with the improbable 20-loss season – however there hasn’t been a 20-loss season by a pitcher who was an All-Star in the season prior since Phil Niekro had 20 with the Atlanta Braves in 1979.

Next: Lineup Changes Paying Dividends

As well, only one American League pitcher has ever finished the season leading the league in both strikeouts and losses and that was in 1976 when Nolan Ryan recorded 18-losses with 327 strikeouts.

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