In their first 15 games of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays have gotten off to an ugly start with a 3-12 record. This is the worst start in franchise history and the worst record in the American League. Even though the Rays are in the middle of a rebuild, this start is anything but ideal, and one of the most surprising and disappointing parts of the season so far is how badly star pitcher Chris Archer has been struggling.
Archer was one of the most coveted players in the offseason, and there were constantly trade rumors surrounding him as the Rays continued their salary dump. Teams like the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs were reported to be interested in acquiring him during the offseason. However, the Rays decided to keep Archer, who is a two-time All-Star pitcher and is lauded as one of the most talented pitchers in the MLB.
Despite all the accolades, Archer has done little in his first four starts of the 2018 season to show why he was one of the Rays protected assets. He has struggled with his pitching execution and efficiency, which has often contributed to many of the Rays’ overall struggles and the team’s inability to come up from behind.
Archer has consistently struggled to prevent teams from scoring, despite having 24 strikeouts in the four games he has pitched in. Archer’s ERA of 7.84, 26 hits, and 18 earned runs in 20.2 innings pitched have also become quite concerning. While Archer is considered the Rays’ ace, this has not been reflected in his play of recent, and the jokes about the Rays’ “bullpen days” being more successful than the rest of the pitching rotation might actually be true. In their combined 10 starts, Archer and the other regular pitchers in the rotation Blake Snell and Jake Faria have a 6.57 ERA. As the primary pitchers for the Rays, they must step up and overall, be better.
However, Archer’s struggles are not new. Last season, he was extremely inconsistent, and as the Rays’ number one pitcher, he ended the 2017 season with a lackluster 4.07 ERA. He continued to struggle to close out games in the later innings, which became especially evident after the 2017 All-Star Game. In his last 21.2 innings of the 2017 season, he allowed 18 earned runs with 31 hits, which is pretty disappointing for a pitcher of Archer’s caliber. Even though the Rays have often relied on Archer to pitch deep into games and limit the opposing team’s ability to score, he has not been able to consistently do that.
While Archer is not the only struggling player on the Rays, he is considered a leader for the team in the midst of their rebuild. Hopefully, Archer can get out of his rut and be more consistent as the rest of the season progresses, but if this keeps up, this could shape up to be a very long and miserable season.