Despite not living in an MLB-market area, I have a great AAA team nearby. I got to see Chris Archer pitch for the AAA Durham Bulls with his great velocity, luckily before his hit role in Coming To Tampa. But after wanting to search for a career, he got promoted from Zamunda and went to
Queens Tropicana Field in hopes of a complete game. Well, when Houston is running out Carlos Pena at leadoff, as Kevin Garnett would exclaim, “Anything is possible!”
I’ve always liked Archer’s stuff, but the high WHIP was a big bugaboo. Like Starship Troopers big. But I liked him in spot starts, and all through comments on Grey’s articles last week, took Archer as my spot starter of choice against a lot of other fringe-streamers. Score one for JB-O-Nator! Ok, that sounds more like I’m an Austrian movie star in a political position. Let’s take a look at how Archer did inning-by-inning, get to the
Choppa Pitcher Profile!
First Inning: Well, here is the first pitch of the game. Wow, let’s hope Archer starts better… Archer’s first pitch of the game is a 93-MPH fastball in there for strike one. Archer’s got some big eyebrows. Random comment… Archer then blows a 94-MPH past Pena who is late, then climbs the ladder at 96-MPH, 1-2. Archer hits the same spot but Pena fouls this one off, then Archer goes to a slider, it doesn’t break much at 86, but backdoors Pena for a strikeout looking. The first pitch to Jose Altuve is a 95-MPH fastball smoked right to Ben Zobrist who is able to knock it down, but can’t make a play on Altuve for an infield single. So Archer is back ready, and starts Jason Castro with a fastball for a strike, then misses low with the heater, then again with that slider at 84-MPH catches the backdoor looking, 1-2. Archer goes to a 96-MPH fastball on the hands, it’s dribbled weakly to third and the Rays turn a double play to end the inning.
Second Inning: The Rays give Archer an early run of support, and he starts J.D. Martinez with a fastball for a strike, then another fouled off, then a slider at 86 dips low, 1-2. Not a bad pitch there looking for a swing, but I’d like to see a little more sharp break, it sort of rolls over. The next pitch is another slider in about the same spot, Martinez tops it and Yunel Escobar ranging to his right has it go under his glove for an error. Would’ve been a tough play, but Escobar gets charged (this was eventually changed to a hit for Martinez), and Archer starts Brett Wallace with a fastball in there for a strike at 94, then barely inside at 95, then a change-up, a dandy and his first one the day at 85-MPH gets a bad swing through it on the outside corner, 1-2. Wallace fouls another change off, then a fastball fouled off, then a slider at 86, his best on the day and had that late break I was looking for, gets Wallace to swing-and-miss, one down, two Ks. Archer starts Carlos Corporan with a 95-MPH heater high that’s fouled off, then is low, but Jose Lobaton snaps a throw to first and gets Martinez napping at first for the second out. Man, what a play. Archer blows 95-MPH heat past Corporan, 1-2, then another fastball is hit right to Escobar to end the inning.
Third Inning: Still up 1-0, Archer starts Justin Maxwell with a fastball high, then again high, both at 92. Archer needs to refind his feel. He gets a fastball over that’s fouled off, then another popped up and caught in foul territory, one down. Archer gets a slider over for strike one to Brandon Barnes then a fastball in the zone gets Barnes trying to hold his swing, that one at 95, then the next one is at 96 and blows Barnes away, two down. Archer misses outside to Ronny Cedeno, then in there with a slier high in the zone, followed by a fastball cut on and missed in a perfect spot high on the hands, 1-2. Archer again with a fastball at 96 gets Cedeno to fly out weakly to right, inning over.
Fourth Inning: Back to the top of the order, Archer starts Pena with a 92-MPH sailing way high, 1-0. That’s the second straight inning Archer’s velocity was a little low and throwing high. So he goes with a slider that’s in there, then a 93-MPH fastball is a tad inside, and the 2-1 is a slider that barely doesn’t break into the backdoor. Now 3-1 and Pena is late on a 92-MPH fastball and foul tips it, then a slider fouled off, and another slider at 84-MPH, another solid one with late break, gets Pena unable to hold his swing for the first out and Archer’s 4th K. Archer starts Altuve with a fastball that looked good to me, back up to 95, then is in there at 82-MPH with the slider, then a 95-MPH fastball perfectly at the knees is grounded weakly to short, two down. And Archer’s first pitch to Castro, an 83-MPH change-up is hit weakly to Zobrist at second, inning over.
Fifth Inning: Now up 3-0, Archer gets a slider in there then misses high to Martinez. J.D. fouls the next one off, then a 95-MPH fastball in a great location inside on the hands gets a weak popup in the infield, one down. Archer misses high at 95-MPH to Wallace, then a slider in there, then the 1-1 fastball is not in a terrible spot low in the zone, but got too much of the plate and Wallace turns it around for a double. Lobaton was calling for it away, but it got over the plate – still at 95 and down – not a bad pitch. Archer misses high to Corporan, then a change-up and a great one outside gets a bad swing-and-miss, 1-1. Archer throws a fastball outside and Corporan can’t hold his swing, then a 95-MPH fastball on the knees and inside paints the lower black for his 5th K looking. Great pitch, and good to see Archer finding the zone low. Archer starts Maxwell with a slider low, then a fantastic change-up gets Maxwell way in front, 1-1. Archer throws a 96-MPH fastball in the same spot, it gets a little bit on Maxwell’s fists who nubs it to short for an easy out to end the inning.
Sixth Inning: The Rays still up 3-0, and Archer gets a 93-MPH fastball past Barnes, 0-1, then barely low with the heater at 95, 1-1. Good to see the velocity immediately there and pitching down. Archer then whips a slider that gets a swing as it dives low, then almost gets Barnes holding up on another slider, 2-2. Another slider, this one hangs right in the middle of the zone, gets Barnes to hit it hard, but it’s caught in front of the warning track, one down. Probably Archer’s worst slider, good thing it’s the Astros! So Archer blows Cedeno away with a fastball at 95, then again at 96 gets a weak foul ball, 0-2. Then Archer climbs the ladder too high for even Lobaton at 96-MPH and goes back to the backstop, 1-2, then the very next pitch is a slider with not the best movement and stayed down the middle, but gets a swing-and-miss out in front as Cedeno was watching for another fastball. That’s why a power fastball can get you through. Archer’s first pitch to Pena is a change-up outside that Pena rips hard to right, but it’s caught by Wil Myers on the run on the track to end the inning. First real loud out of the game for Archer.
Seventh Inning: At only 70 pitches, Archer is cruising right now and starts Altuve with a nasty two-seam fastball on the inside at 93 for strike one. Archer then at 95 gives Altuve some chin music, then a slider on the outside corner gets a weak
Choppah! chopper to Archer, who makes a great stab and gets him out. Archer starts Castro with a fastball that looked good to me but called a ball, then misses outside with the change-up, 2-0. The next pitch is a 93-MPH fastball right down the middle and Castro smokes it right at Archer and it goes past him and up the gap for a single. That was probably Archer’s most hittable fastball on the day. Then the first pitch to Martinez is a slider that’s hit weakly to Zobrist who gets the out at second, but Martinez beats the double play at first. Just wasn’t hit hard enough. So two outs and Wallace laces a change-up foul, then a fastball catches the high outside corner, 0-2. Archer climbs the ladder at 96, 1-2, then a slider hangs too far outside, 2-2, followed by a change-up popped foul, still 2-2. Archer again is high at 95, 3-2, then a change-up and a beauty on the inside corner dropping low at 83-MPH gets a swing-and-miss to end the inning on Archer’s 7th K.
Eighth Inning: In great shape at 84 pitches, Archer starts Corporan with a change-up low, then a fastball in there 1-1. Corporan is late on a 92-MPH fastball, 1-2, then a fastball at 95 is high, 2-2. Another change is fouled back, then a slider is popped up to left and Kelly Johnson nabs it charging in, one down. Archer starts Maxwell with a fastball low, then another heater gets Maxwell to ground out weakly to short, two down quickly. First pitch to Barnes is a fastball for a strike, then another on the hands at 95 gets a weak grounder that dies right in front of Archer who fields it and gets Barnes out quickly for a very fast inning.
Ninth Inning: Coming out to go complete, Archer starts the 9th at 94 pitches and the first pitch to Cedeno is a 93-MPH fastball in there for strike one. A slider is low at 84, then a 94-MPH fastball is fouled back, 1-2. Another slider is low, then another one hangs too much in the zone and Cedeno loops it to right for a leadoff single. Not his best pitch there. Archer starts Pena with a fastball in there for strike one, then is outside at 96-MPH, 1-1. Great to see the high velocity still there late. Another heater at 96 on the hands is fouled back, and another down the middle at 96 is fouled, and again on the hands at 96 is fouled back, still 1-2. Archer then goes to the breaking ball, a backdoor slider right at the bottom of the zone and Pena can’t offer at it and Archer has his 8th K. Archer starts Altuve with a slider in there, then another slider is fouled back, 0-2. Archer then rears back and launches a 97-MPH fastball that Altuve grounds out weakly to short, two down. 97 I think is his fastest pitch on the day, and it was on the 26th out. Wow. Archer gets another slider for strike one on Castro taking, then Archer is low, again hitting 97 on the gun. Archer paints the outside corner to make it 1-2, then the final pitch of the game is an 85-MPH change-up that didn’t do much and Castro hits it hard, but caught by Desmond Jennings on the run on the track. What a great final play I hope you caught on Sportscenter.
Final Line: W 9 IP 112 Pitches (80 Strikes) 5 Hits 0 Walks 0 ER 8 K Gamescore: 85 Gamescore+: 80.8
Final Analysis: What a tremendous outing from the young righty. Just look at that strike percentage in his pitches thrown. Wow. And a fair number of those balls were fastballs high trying to alter Astros’ hitters sight-lines. Archer was a little below his game score in my Gamescore+ calculation despite a lot of weak outs and with the hits all fairly decent, but a double play and pickoff at first worked in there kept two outs from scoring from him.
It all starts with the fastball for Archer, who got it all the way up to 97 and that was only in the 9th. Save your best for last! It was working all over the zone, and also used high to keep hitters sightlines’ off-kilter. The slider was pretty good all day, but not every one had that sharp break and he hung 5 or 6. Then the change-up I think is where Archer will emerge, it was his third pitch in this game but flashed real potential, especially working with that change-up.
I really like Archer for the second half, but not ready to anoint him the huge breakout guy you’re looking for. The velocity and fastball is there, but in the 3rd and 4th innings he lost a little velocity and was sailing some pitches. Also, a few bad pitches weren’t turned into hits that a lot of other line-ups, especially in the AL East, would do better with. Still a little work needs to be done for a consistent feel and usage of the slider and change. He’s definitely worth owning in 10-team leagues right now as your final pitcher, but not a guy that has to be held at all costs. I’d expect a 3.50ish ERA and 1.20ish WHIP in the second half, but with good K numbers and solid Wins.