We’re nearing the one-year anniversary of Pittsburgh acquiring right-hander Chris Archer from Tampa Bay in a whopper of a trade. The Pirates, under the impression they were getting back a front-line starter, sent high-caliber prospects Tyler Glasnowand Austin Meadows to the Rays in exchange for Archer last July 31. Unfortunately for the Pirates, the deal has been a catastrophe to this point. Archer has flopped, while Glasnow and Meadows may be turning into core pieces for the Rays.
With two-plus months left in his first full season as a Pirate, Archer’s on pace for a career-worst campaign. The 30-year-old has offset an impressive strikeout rate (10.07 K/9) with control problems (4.69 BB/9) and home run issues (2.29 HR/9) en route to a 5.49 ERA/5.91 FIP in 78 2/3 innings. Stunningly, among 110 pitchers who have thrown at least 70 frames in 2019, the once-excellent Archer ranks sixth from the bottom in ERA and second last in FIP.
Now, Archer’s in the process of trying to turn around his fortunes, as he explained to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archer will hope to do a 180 with a different repertoire. He dumped his two-seam fastball in a June 22 start against the Padres and plans to rely more heavily on his signature slider. Archer told Mackey batters’ “slugging percentage on my two-seamer was extremely high. One way to eliminate the damage is just to not throw the pitch that has the most damage. It’s not a complex thing. It was just getting banged. I got rid of it.”
Archer’s right. Hitters own a ludicrous .867 slugging percentage against the pitch – one Statcast classifies as a sinker and says he has turned to 15.8 percent of the time this season.