From 2015 to 2017, Chris Archer threw over 200 innings in each season and racked up 252, 233, and 249 strikeouts respectively. Then, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after the All-Star break in 2018, and was wheeled down into the basement lab of Ray Searage. When he resurfaced, Archer produced the highest xFIP, homerun rate, and walk rate of his career. Hip hip hooray for Ray Searage! Entering the Rona TBD season of 2020, Searage is out and Oscar Marin is in as pitching coach. Is there value with Archer, as he is the 67th starting pitcher and 244th overall player being drafted in NFBC drafts from 3/1/2020 to 4/26/2020?

During the three-year span when Archer was slicing and dicing American League East batters, he was primarily a fastball, slider, and changeup pitcher. So, of course, when Searage got a hand on him in 2018, he broke what was successful and incorporated the sinker/two-seamer into his arsenal. After not throwing the pitch for three years, Archer started throwing it over 10% of the time. Why do you ask? Well, throwing low in the zone and pitching to contact was an organizational philosophy, which neutered both Tyler Glasnow and  Gerrit Cole in the past. Good times.

Last year, the Pirates scrapped the two-seam/sinker after the All-Star break for Archer. Here are the numbers:

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA xFIP
BEFORE ASB 10.07 4.69 2.29 5.49 4.74
AFTER ASB 12.07 3.07 1.1 4.61 3.64

Damn….

To be fair, the sample sizes are both small and divergent, as pre-ASB consisted of 78.2 innings while post-ASB was 41 innings, but still. The numbers are dramatically different. Let’s not forget that Archer still throws his fastball in the 94-95 mph range, and he’s maintained a swinging strike rate above 12% for the past five years. .

The hire of Oscar Marin should be a boon for Archer to return to his markmanship days. As Kevin Gorman of TribLive.com wrote back in February of 2020, “They are using Rapsodo tracking devices for precise looks at pitches and high-speed Edgertonic video cameras for bullpen sessions. They are talking about pitch tunneling-where two different pitches are designed to follow the same trajectory long enough to confuse a batter and keep him guessing-and, more importantly, explaining the analytics.” Marin is going to maximize the abilities for each individual pitcher, not bunch the entire staff onto one cookie-cutter sheet.

Archer once, not-too-long-ago, dominated potent AL East lineups. With a new approach, an increase in confidence, and more familiarity with NL Central batters, there is optimism from a purely between-the-lines persepective. From a fantasy persepective, though, it gets even juicier. Archer is the 95th pitcher and 67th starting pitcher off the board in NFBC drafts. Steamer has him projected for the 35th-best K/9 and 23rd-best total strikeouts among all starting pitchers! That is a spread that gives me googly eyes and makes my mouth salivate like a wolf seeing sheep without a shepard. Both Joe Musgrove and Mitch Keller are being selected ahead of him.

Too much upside for Archer at the price he’s going at.

VERDICT:

 
  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    That pic at the end of this article better be a Bear inside that Bull statue

    • Son says:
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      Why’s you always be hatin? The Rona gots you mad?

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Rona got me messed up in my head, man — first apology goes out to Fred Savage, I’ve said some not very nice things about him in the past…2nd apology is to you

        • LenFuego says:
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          As long as you never said not very nice things about Danica McKellar, it’s all good.

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            Heavens no

            • Joebobsays says:
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              So Grey—still not a fan of Archer? I’ve tried to trade him all off-season pre corona and no good bites.

              NL only 10 team keeper league, 5 in Reserver. 18 year league…very competitive. Archer at 4. I’ve been on the fence about keeping him.

              Grey? Keep or…?

              Article had be keeping, Son!

              Thanks

        • Son says:
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          Pre-Rona were indeed the Wonder Years.

          Hey!!! You’s talking shit about your Son?

    • Harley Earl says:
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      I’m with you Grey. I’ll pass on Chris Archer, this season or any season from here on for that matter.

      Sometimes, it’s just smarter to stay away from guys who don’t give you a reason to think they’re back. Remember all the Tim Lincecum returns, comebacks, etc? I feel like Archer is another Lincecum except he never was Lincecum to begin with, which makes me even less interested in him.

      • Son says:
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        You heathen!!!!

        Fair point, Harley.

  2. krazyivan says:
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    The problem with ditching the s(t)inker is that he has to throw the 4 seamer more. His xwOBA on 4s fb the last four years is .382!

    • Son says:
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      Fair point! The sinker had a .511 wOBA last season so……
      The slider has usually been a good pitch for him, so if he can mix in the changeup successfully, then there is hope for optimism.

      • krazyivan says:
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        It, like you said, they can tunnel the 4 seamer/slider/change together then I can see a fair amount of strikeouts. The only thing scaring me off are the blow ups. In a short season they can ruin some ratios.

        • Son says:
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          For sure. Draft price does mitigate some of the concern though

  3. Mark says:
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    Always look for deep pitchers with good stuff. Archer is already a goner in my league. Any interest in Michael Wacha this year? I heard he had increased velocity this spring…so I am watching him. Anything you find interesting about him?

    I also have Zach Eflin but worry about Philly youngsters since they disappoint. Anything in his profile suggests a breakout?

    • Son says:
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      Wacha Wacha Wacha. I have no interest

  4. 183414 says:
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    Rather have Musgrove.

    • Son says:
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      Me too but Archer is going over 30 picks later on average

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