Why the Tampa Bay Rays' Chris Archer Is the Best Pitcher in the AL East
If not many people were talking about Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer before, that's all about to change soon.
After another outstanding performance on Sunday in which he went seven shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays, giving up two hits, one walk and seven strikeouts, Archer extended his scoreless innings streak to 26 2/3 innings, the longest in Major League Baseball so far this season.
The dude has been downright filthy so far this year.
Overall, Archer has been ridiculously good through five starts in 2015.
His 32 1/3 innings leads all of baseball, his 0.84 ERA is third-best, trailing only Texas' Nick Martinez and Houston's Dallas Keuchel. His 32 strikeouts leads all of baseball, opponents are hitting just .159 against him (tied for eighth-best), and his walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) of 0.74 is third-best.
Chris Archer's last four starts: 26 2/3 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 36 Ks, 0.00 ERA. No patsies, either. Twice vs. Jays, once Red Sox, once Marlins.â€” Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 26, 2015
Archer is also striking out 10.30 batters per nine, 10th-best in the Majors, and his 6.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio is 11th-best.
Simply put, the guy has become one of the nastiest pitchers in baseball -- and certainly the best in the American League East. He's also helped the Rays get out to an 11-8 record and up on top of a very competitive division.
Chris Archer is the first pitcher in #Rays history to make four consecutive starts without allowing an earned run.â€” Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) April 26, 2015
He also apparently tends to "over-share."
.@ChrisArcher42 wasn't feeling well during game, throwing up between innings. "Thereâ€™s some kale and some quinoa in the sewer down there.â€â€” Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 26, 2015
Archer features a mid-90s four-seam and two-seam fastball, as well as a nasty mid-80s slider and mid-80s changeup, all of which has allowed the right-hander to dominate both left-handed hitters (.178 batting average allowed, 14 strikeouts and 2 walks in 12 2/3 innings pitched) and right-handers (.147 batting average against, 23 strikeouts and 4 walks in 19.2 innings).
Who is better than the 26-year-old in the AL East right now? New York's Masahiro Tanaka is a solid starter with ace stuff but is an injury risk who hasn't gotten off to quite the same start Archer has (3.22 ERA, 24 strikeouts and seven walks in 22 1/3 innings). No Boston starter has an ERA under 4.08 so far, Toronto's R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle are past-their-primes veterans, and Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen, although off to a fine start (2.78 ERA, 16 strikeouts and 9 walks in 22 2/3 innings), hasn't matched Archer's hot first few weeks.
Chris Archer already has 3 starts of 7 IP, 0 R and 2 hits or fewer. Only 2 pitchers had 3 all of last year (Kyle Gibson 3, Jake Arrieta 4)â€” Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) April 26, 2015
And in daily fantasy, Archer has been a decent value play, especially for an "ace" pitcher. On Sunday's slate, there were six pitchers more expensive than him on DraftKings: Jake Arrieta, Gio Gonzalez, Francisco Liriano, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Fiers, and Lance Lynn. Jonathon Niese, Roenis Elias, and Bud Norris were all going for only slightly less. I'm not sure if you'll be able to get the same value for him in five days, but so far this season, he's been a good pitcher to target.
Chris Archer is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball that no one really talks about. But that may be about to change, starting right now.