Even with Chris Archer having surpassed 30 starts in four straight seasons, with great numbers to boot, some in the fantasy community remain concerned that he won't hold up. Is time running out on his arm? It's not a ridiculous question given the extreme slider usage (44.4 percent last season) and the velocity at which he throws the pitch (88.9 percent). He also fizzled late in 2017 with a 7.48 ERA and five homers allowed in September, but Archer was better than his surface stats throughout most of the year, with his xFIP ranging from 2.48 to 3.33 from May through August. The right-hander wasn't as good the third time through the order and that could hurt his chances at wins moving forward if he's given the hook earlier on a more consistent basis, but his core skills are borderline elite (11.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9). There is risk as is inherent with all pitchers; however, the questions about Archer specifically are pure speculation seeing as he's been extremely durable to this point in his career.
Archer's final start of spring will be on a back field at the Charlotte Sports Complex on Friday, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. Archer was brilliant Sunday against the Tigers, and as it turns out, that start will mark the final time he faces major-league hitters in spring training. The hard-throwing right-hander and Opening Day starter will throw to minor leaguers with Wilson Ramos behind the dish on Friday. Seven innings or 105 pitches -- whichever comes first -- will serve as the benchmark for Archer, who'd previously expressed a desire to at least hit the century mark with his pitch count before taking the mound to start the regular season.
Archer (1-0) fired 5.1 scoreless innings in Sunday's 10-5 Grapefruit League win over the Tigers, allowing two hits and recording four strikeouts. The Opening Day starter worked up to 74 pitches, 46 of which were strikes, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. Archer mentioned his overall efficiency and his changeups as two areas of focus during Sunday's outing, and he also emphasized he'd aim for 100 pitches on Friday against either an Orioles or Blue Jays split squad, citing his desire to avoid a scenario that unfolded in the 2017 opener against the Yankees. "Last year, the most I threw was like 5 2/3 [innings] and 88 pitches," Archer said. "And the first game of the season, I was in the seventh inning with the bases loaded with over 100 pitches. And I hadn't been there since the year prior. I wanted to avoid that. I'm giving myself extra rest as opposed to [having an outing where I throw less pitches]."
Archer will start the Rays' Opening Day tilt with the Red Sox, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Archer is the unquestioned ace of Tampa Bay's staff, so it comes as little surprise that he will take the ball for the season opener. The right-hander has struggled against the Red Sox recently, producing just a 4.48 ERA in 12 starts against them over the past three years. Boston also hit .262 off him in this span. At this point, it seems like Archer will face off against southpaw Chris Sale on Opening Day.
Archer recorded five strikeouts while allowing two earned runs on one hit and three walks over 4.1 innings in Tuesday's 6-3 Grapefruit League loss to the Phillies. It was the longest outing of spring for Archer, who stretched out to 81 pitches, throwing 47 for strikes. While he reported a couple of regrets -- a leadoff walk to the speedy Roman Quinn after being ahead 0-2 and the 3-0 fastball that Maikel Franco took deep on in the fourth -- Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports that the right-hander was pleased with his performance overall, especially his changeup. "Today, [the changeup] actually felt like a better pitch -- swing and miss -- in the strike zone than my slider," Archer said.
Archer allowed two earned runs on five hits and a walk over three innings in a 6-6 Grapefruit League tie with the Red Sox on Thursday. He also recorded a strikeout. The final line was far from sharp, but according to a report from Glenn Sattell of MLB.com, Archer was elated with his overall performance. "Today's the best I've felt all spring," said Archer. "I was able to face a really good team, get a lot of outs and get outs in ways I typically wouldn't. Lot of changeups, got a lot of good feedback. Not all of them were strikes, but high-quality pitches." The changeup was a particular source of pride for the hard-throwing right-hander, who noted that he was glad to see the official scorer often mistake it for a slider, an indication of how well-disguised it generally was. Archer stretched out to 47 pitches overall and was also pleased with the results his actual slider yielded, a pitch he was able to miss multiple bats with as well. Ramping up for a likely Opening Day turn, Archer will look to up his workload in a projected start against the Phillies next Tuesday.