Archer Blanks Yanks | The Process Report

Archer Blanks Yanks

Before I dig into Chris Archer’s start against the Yankees, the absurdity of his latest run deserves a bit of note.

In his last four starts, Archer has allowed a single earned run in 31 innings of work. Opposing hitters have just 15 hits and four walks. Of those 15 hits, only five have been extra-base hits; none of them home runs.

Archer has just 17 strikeouts during the stretch, but has traded punch outs for quick outs. After averaging over 18 pitches per innings in his first seven starts, he has needed fewer than 13 pitches on average in his last four. He has recorded the first two shutouts of his career and made some history in the process. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he is the first visiting pitcher to throw a 1-0 shutout allowing two hits or fewer with no walks at Yankee Stadium since 1935. He’s been impressive and that is an understatement.

This isn’t your typical Yankees lineup, but they still have Robinson Cano and play in park that favors hitters. Archer was quietly dominant, likening himself to a duck that looks graceful gliding across a pond while working hard under the surface. He allowed just two hits, walked none, and struck out six. He needed just 97 pitches to get 27 outs with 67 of them strikes. He generated a dozen outs on the ground.

In recent weeks, I have written at length about Archer. I’ve talked about his changeup, his fastball command and mental growth. The one piece of his game that I have ignored is his slider. The offering is highly regarded and one of the best of its’ kind. Perhaps that’s the reason I have pushed it aside. It’s good and usually good all the time.

On Saturday afternoon, Archer’s slider was too provocative, too plentiful, and too effective to be brushed off. He threw 41 sliders against New York – a career-high. He produced 31 strikes with it including seven whiffs on 23 swings. The Yankees put 13 sliders in play; all of them outs including six on the ground. Thrown typically in the mid-to-upper 80s, Archer showed excellent command of the slider.

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When facing lefties, he started outside before creeping back in the front door.

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Against right-handers, he swept the pitch across the zone, starting inside and ending glove-side.

With eight called strikes of the slider on the day, four came against lefties on pitches on the outer half of the plate. If he is able to exhibit this kind of slider command, it would represent a huge issue for the opposition.

Having the slider as a weapon against batters on both sides of the plate, Archer had little use for his change. When he wasn’t tantalizing the Yankees hitters with sliders, he was consistently pounding his fastball arm-side and up. The heater accounted for the remaining 14 outs that the slider left on the table.

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With Alex Cobb set to return in a few weeks, the Rays will have an interesting decision to make on Archer. Regardless of the resolution reached, the 24-year-old has been fantastic during the month of July. So much so that it might be time to start thinking about his future again.

Data and visuals courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info.



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