Chris Archer is nearing a return after being sidelined for almost three months.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Archer is “feeling good and is eyeing an early July return from the injured list.”
This is a sign the Rays certainly wanted to see from Archer. Having another healthy and potentially lethal arm in an already-solid pitching rotation can be a huge benefit.
The Rays have had a lot of success without Archer, establishing themselves as the top team in the AL East. So where will the former All-Star fit in when he makes his return?
On the season, he is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA.
Before his injury, Archer made just two appearances. His first was out of the bullpen and his second appearance was a start.
In his lone start of the season against the New York Yankees, he had a solid outing. The MLBbro threw 2.1 innings, striking out four and giving up no runs before leaving the game because of the injury.
“I thought it was just something that kind of comes and goes, because things come and go as you start,” Archer told the Tampa Bay Times regarding the injury. “But it lingered, and I found myself altering how I was throwing a little and it just wasn’t worth it.”
“Fortunately, it’s nothing serious. But there’s definitely some tightness in there that I need to get out. So I’m glad that we took the precautions that we did. And I’m really glad the bullpen stepped up.”
The two-time All-Star can make an immediate impact once he returns and silence all the critics that think he doesn’t have anything left in the tank. Even though his numbers have not been up to par the past few seasons, he can still go out there and get the job done on the mound.
Especially playing for a team that can make it back to the World Series. They will need all the pitching they can get.
If he can continue to build off his last performance, there’s no question he will add value to the rotation.
The Rays will find the right spot for Archer once he returns and they’ll keep a close eye on him as the time approaches to formulate a playoff roster.
Going into the 2021 season, the 32-year-old was ready to contribute to a team that was coming off its first World Series appearances since 2008.
Archer’s best season came in 2015 when he made his first all-star team and finished the season with a 12-13 record with a 3.23 ERA.
He made 34 starts that season and finished with 252 strikeouts, the most he’s had in a season.
Even though his career has been a roller coaster ride, he’s still in a position to help his team go deep into the playoffs if used correctly.
Once he makes his return, Archer will be an MLBbro you want to keep tabs on.
Chris Archer wasn’t exactly kicking butts and taking names in his first relief appearance for the Tampa Bay Rays. The 32-year-old veteran gave up 3 runs, 4 hits in two innings of relief. It wasn’t the style of homecoming Archer had imagined.
Chris Archer picks up where he left off with the Pirates. Coming in for relief for TB, Archer gives up 2 runs.
Then again, prior to Spring Training, where he looked fabulous while surrendering just one hit and one run in 6.2 innings pitched, Archer hadn’t pitched in a major league game since August 2019 with the Pirates.
To make matters worse, Archer is a starter, who came in to relieve fellow starter Rich Hill as part of some tandem starter experiment the innovative and sometimes annoying Tampa Bay Rays front office constructed.
It was a tough situation for anyone making his first start in almost two years. Especially a pitcher, as they tend to be very regimented in nature. The good news is that the rotation is expected to return to normal for Archer’s next start, so we will actually ignore his 13.50 ERA right now and see what he does going forward.
Long Road Back To Brilliance
When Archer was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, he left Tampa Bay one year removed from an All-Star appearance and was still considered an arm on the rise at 29-years of age.
Three years later, after a disastrous, injury-plagued stint, he’s back in Tampa on an incentive-laden, one-year $6.5 million contract, struggling to hang on after 10 years in the show.
The reunion works. The Rays needed to add an arm to their shortened rotation. While Archer needed to turn back the hands of time.
Archer who played with the Rays from 2012 to 2018, missed the 2020 pandemic-shortened season while recovering from surgery to relieve neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome abnormalities. Thoracic outlet syndrome affects the space between the collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet).
During the recovering process, the two-time all-star also contracted COVID-19 in August while training for his upcoming reunion with the Rays. Besides being stuck in a five-star hotel without a balcony to quarantine, Archer said the virus was not too debilitating.
It took him off the scene for a season, but nothing can hinder his charisma
“It was more the fact that I had to stay in a hotel room. If you own a home, you can go outside and get some Vitamin D which helps with your mood, but I was stuck in a room with no balcony,” Archer explained.
He jokingly added that he was living at the Four Seasons and how it was a five-star hotel but being isolated gives you an appreciation of the small things in life, like sticking your head outside of a window that barely opens.
“You get time to yourself. Either you get distracted, or you can reflect, but there are a lot of things that I can be grateful for,” Archer said.
“It felt good to be back,” said Archer. He added, “I haven’t been healthy and on a mound in a stadium, in that setting, in a long time. So, it was nice.”
When Archer takes the mound for his first start of the 2021 season, it will be for the same manager (Kevin Cash) who traded him in 2018 for current teammates Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and pitching prospect Shane Baz.
Home Is Where The Heat Is
His career has come full circle.
In over 200 career games, Archer is 60-80 with a 3.86 ERA, ranking fourth on Tampa’s career wins list with 54, third in innings pitched with 1,065, second in starts with 177, and second in strikeouts with 1,148.
Archer’s season-high in wins is 12, which came in 2015. The Clayton, North Carolina legend hasn’t had a winning season since, but he’s hoping to change that with the support of the American League champs behind him.
During the transitional phase from Tampa to Pittsburgh and now back to Tampa, new players, coaches and staff have emerged.
“It’s a nice balance as some of the younger guys have some admiration for me, but I have a lot of respect for what these guys have done these last two years,” Archer who went 6-12 in 33 starts with the struggling Pirates said.
He also expressed how good it felt to move around during spring training without GPS as familiarity brings comfortability. Comfortability breeds success and Archer is chilling as he’s returned to the scene of his greatest success, with more left in the tank.
MLB could use the “old” Chris Archer right now. A return to respectability and visibility by the two-time All-Star can help bridge the gap between the mound and the next generation of Black and brown pitchers coming through the pipeline. In Archer, they see a mirror image. Same swag. Same skin tone. Same dream.