Chris Archer never really went anywhere, at least not physically. After a difficult year last season, the Tampa Bay Rays ace is back.
There are times when statistics do not show the full picture. For the Tampa Bay Rays ace Chris Archer, that is definitely the case, particularly when comparing this season to last year.
At first glance, the statistics are fairly similar. Archer, in a down year, had a 101 ERA+, struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings, and issues 3.0 walks per nine. The opposition had a .238/.300/.403 batting line against him, as Archer was done in by the home run and his lack of command. At times, his frustrations would get the best of him on the mound, as Archer looked like he was trying to throw the ball past everyone, trying to win on his own.
This year, those metrics are fairly similar. Archer has a 106 ERA+, has 10.7 strikeouts per nine, and has walked 3.3 batters per nine. He is holding opponents to a .226/.301/.362 batting line this year, not all too dissimilar from last season. And yet, while his 3-3 record may not show it, Archer once again looks like the ace the Rays need him to be.
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The biggest area where this is apparent is with his command. Archer never really looked comfortable with his command last year, particularly with his fastball. While he struck out 233 batters last season, Archer also kept missing his spots and leaving pitches over the plate. That led to an astronomical 30 homers last season, and some of those frustrations on the mound.
This year, Archer has been sharper. While he still has a few mistakes, notably during rough outings against the Indians and the Orioles, Archer’s command has been better. In turn, his demeanor on the mound has improved. Instead of being bogged down by a bad inning, he is back out there, confident that he will get the next batter out.
And that is where Archer is different this year. As Yogi Berra once said, baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical. With Archer back in the right mindset, he is getting results. As such, he is back to being the ace the Rays need him to be.
Chris Archer has gotten himself back on track. In doing so, the Tampa Bay Rays once again have their ace.