Chris Archer Returns to Rays Rotation | The Process Report

Chris Archer Returns to Rays Rotation

With David Price on the shelf and the bullpen workload uneven, the Rays continue to shuttle pitchers back and forth between Durham and St. Petersburg. The latest round of shuffling sees Chris Archer making his season debut on Saturday against the Indians. There may be an intermediate move on Friday to temporarily boost the bullpen, however, Archer on the mound in Cleveland will be the end result of this week’s series of moves.

Unlike Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome, those who follow the Rays have first-hand knowledge of Archer. The 24-year-old made six appearances (four starts) last season, compiling 29 1/3 innings. He flashed brilliance in his start against the Rangers, and arrived on stage three following a dazzling bases-loaded escape in Baltimore.

In most organizations, Archer would have begun 2013 in the major-league rotation; however, on the pitching-rich farm Tampa Bay has built, he returned to his native Durham to start the season. More time in the minors is not necessarily a bad thing for Archer. Despite the positives of last season, questions about command and depth of arsenal remain. He is better served working on those issues in Triple-A than the American League.

Archer features a top-shelf fastball. Traditionally thrown in the mid-90s, his heater nears triple digits at maximum velocity. He has great movement on the fastball that leads to empty swings, but also to some arm-side command issues.


Similar to Alex Colome, the ball clusters on the third-base side of the plate with little glove-side action (inside) to left-handed batters. Because of this, big league lefties teed off on fastballs over the plate and sat on pitches too far outside. The ability to correct this issue may be the most important part of his development.

In addition to fastball command, Archer must show an improved third offering. I have said this before, but Archer does not need a plus changeup to be successful. He needs one that is good enough to earn respect from the opposition. He showed such a pitch against the Rangers, and hopefully that has carried over.

What Archer does not need to improve upon is his slider. In the his brief time at the top level the plus, plus offering was a true out pitch. Crossing two planes in the upper-80s, Major-League hitters missed on nearly 40 percent of swings against the pitch. He finished 16 of his 28 big-league strikeouts with a slider.

It is unknown how long Archer will be around this time. That said, improved command and good-enough changeup may entice the Rays to take a longer look.

Data and visuals courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info.


  1. […] Tommy Rancel of the Process Report takes a look at Chris Archer and suggests that for Archer to be successful he will have to command his fastball but also have an effective 3rd pitch. Rancel doesn’t believe that the pitch has to be a dominant change up, “Archer does not need a plus changeup to be successful. He needs one that is good enough to earn respect from the opposition.” […]

  2. […] a number of chases outside of the zone. He missed a lot high and to the glove side, as Tommy Rancel suggested he might, thereby putting himself in difficult counts. Unsurprisingly five of the seven hits Archer […]

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