ST. PETERSBURG — After losing his first four starts of the season, Chris Archer finally looked the part of the Rays' ace in his most-recent start Monday, striking out 10 in a 2-0 win against Baltimore.
And in tonight's game against the Blue Jays, he's ready to pick up right where he left off.
In the victory against the Orioles, Archer said he threw his changeup 20 times, showcasing a pitch that isn't commonly used by the right-hander famous for his fastball and slider. The fact that he's using the changeup more, though, proves that he's already feeling more comfortable with it, Archer said.
"Every year we talk in spring training about utilizing that pitch more, because it is good, just at times you don't want to go with your third-best option," Archer said before the Rays' 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday. "The last game was a perfect example of (how) I have three legitimate weapons I can throw to right-handed or left-handed batters, and it's just going to make me that much better."
Four of Archer's strikeouts against the Orioles came on the changeup. Still, it's not a pitch Archer is being heavily advised to use.
"If he feels good with it, great … If it's a good pitch for a specific team, so be it, use it," manager Kevin Cash said. "Not by any means is anybody pounding the table saying you need to use this pitch to be successful."
When Archer starts today, he'll likely be throwing to Curt Casali, Cash said. Casali caught Archer's first win of the season after four starts with Hank Conger behind the plate. Despite hitting a new groove with a new catcher and the implementation of another weapon, Archer isn't trying to overthink things.
"You're going to give up home runs. … You're going to give up hits — hard hits, soft hits. You have to trust it," Archer said. "Just like anything we do, you have to trust yourself, and that's the only way to get optimal results."
GUYER IN AGAIN: OF Brandon Guyer made his eighth start of the season, a move Cash said was intentional in order to let Guyer finally get a little bit more consistency.
Guyer made the most of his at-bats, finishing 2-for-4 with a single in the second and a double in the ninth.
"If we can get him two days in a row, or more potentially, it seems to allow a guy to get a little comfort, better timing," Cash said. "It has been difficult because (Guyer and Steve Pearce) are good players. We want them out there. With the off days, it doesn't help, but this next month I'm sure we'll be seeing them much more."
Guyer was taking the place of slumping OF Desmond Jennings, who is hitless in his past 16 at-bats. Cash said he wasn't worried about his usual starter: "Guys are going to struggle at different parts of the season. DJ will get going. He's too good of an athlete not to."
CASH'S EARLY EXIT: Cash was ejected in the fifth inning after arguing balls and strikes with the home-plate umpire following a Drew Smyly strikeout. It was Cash's first ejection since Aug. 28 of last year. "It was just more or less I just didn't agree with the strike zone too much," Cash said. "Those guys are out there busting it, trying to get it right. We want it right. That's going to happen. But sometimes we're not always going to agree."