Minnesota Twins: Can the Twins fix Chris Archer?
By Chris Schad
What happened to Chris Archer?
Before we see what the Twins can do to fix the problem with Archer, we first have to identify the problem. Where that story begins seems to coincide with his trade from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he was randomly swapped for super prospects Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow. While those two have flourished with the Rays, Archer has done the opposite for the Pirates.
Over a season and a half with the Pirates, Archer has not lived up to his billing of being an ace to replace the Gerrit Cole mistake two years ago. His 6-12 record came with a 4.92 ERA and his walk rate jumped nearly a full base on balls per nine innings as he posted a 3.8 BB/9 rate compared to 2.9 with the Rays.
While the walks have gone up, so have Archer’s hard-hit balls, which have seen him allow 33 home runs over 172 innings with the Pirates, an astronomical jump after allowing 117 long balls in 1,063 innings in Tampa Bay.
A big culprit of this is Archer’s use of the sinker. According to Baseball Savant, Archer came into the majors using his sinker throughout the first three seasons of his career including a career-high 19.5% usage rate in 2014. He then put that pitch away for three of the most successful seasons of his career from 2015-17, where he made two All-Star appearances, threw over 200 innings in each season and compiled a 3.44 ERA.
In the last two seasons, however, Pittsburgh has implored for him to bring back the sinker and the results have been downright bad. Although he doesn’t use it often (10.4% usage rate), the pitch has been ineffective because of its tendency to hang. Overall, Archer’s sinker dropped an average of 15.7 inches, which was nearly six inches below the MLB average.
That led opposing hitters to tee off for a .378 average with a .778 slugging percentage against the sinker making it by far his least effective pitch.
With the Pirates fixated on having their pitchers get ground balls as opposed to striking guys out, they’ve had a long history of wasting talents such as Archer, Cole and Charlie Morton. That’s where a change of scenery to Minnesota could come in handy.