Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hall of Famers, analysts try to diagnose struggles of Rays' Archer

DENVER — A popular topic of discussion around the Rays this season has been what's wrong with Chris Archer.

An All-Star last season who appeared on his way to ace status, Archer has been headed in a drastically different direction this year, leading the majors with 13 losses (and on pace for 20-plus) with an ERA that hasn't been under 4.00 since opening day.

Archer, slated to start today's matinee against the Rockies, insists he's healthy, mechanically sound and properly focused and motivated, that his struggles are not as bad as the numbers show and that his only problem is a lack of pitch execution — albeit on a troubling repeated basis.

But Hall of Fame pitchers Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz — armed with immense knowledge of pitching and impressive credentials — presented a segment on MLB Network detailing what they believe to be specific problems, primarily in Archer's delivery.

The biggest issue, Martinez said, is that Archer is taking his hand out of his glove too early, allowing hitters to get an early and longer look at the ball coming out of his hand than they should, thus having a better idea what is coming.

"To me it seems relatively simple the adjustment he has to make," Martinez said. "When you stop to look at him and you see where he separates the ball from his glove, it gives the batter a clear view of his hand. All they have to do is track his hands and know the location where he is delivering the pitch or see the rotation on the ball."

A related issue, that Smoltz and Martinez both noted, is that Archer is too open in facing the plate in his delivery, which also allows the hitters a better look and eliminates any deception.

"(He should) square off a little bit, like a 45-degree angle, so all the hitter can see is a short gap," Martinez said, also suggesting Archer could benefit by bringing his hands closer to his body.

Archer said he hadn't see the segment (posted on tampabay.com/blogs/rays), but — unconvincingly — said he might take a look.

"I'm not saying I'm pitching to my capability by any means, but to try and diagnose what's 'wrong' is a little critical," he said. "What I would say to something like that is what about the 130 people who struck out. … At the end of the day, it's pitch execution."

Manager Kevin Cash and pitching coach Jim Hickey agreed there were no mechanical issues causing his struggles, which include a .255 opponents' average (up from .220 last year) and 20 homers (compared to 19 total in 2015).

"I'm not saying whatever point they made, and I'm not sure exactly what it was, is invalid," Hickey said, "but I'm certain it has more to do with the quality of the pitch than it does the hitter seeing the ball better, or earlier, or whatever it was."

Plus, Cash said, "By what we look at, Archer is the same guy. It just boils down to execution."

Archer did pitch better in his last start, responding to a challenge by Cash to throw at least 70 percent strikes, which was a way to tell him to simplify his approach. Archer hit 67.6 percent — 71 of 105 — and felt it was a constructive process he plans to continue.

"Early on in the season I didn't have my normal command, and I feel so much better than I did early," he said. "For whatever reason, I don't know."

There's a lot no one seems to really know.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com.

Hall of Famers, analysts try to diagnose struggles of Rays' Archer 07/19/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 10:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem

    Bucs

    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  3. Matt Peca making case for Lightning spot

    Blogs

    Center Matt Peca said he didn't read too much into the fact he was the only Lightning player to appear in each of the first three exhibition games.

    But Peca, 24, loved it.

    Matt Peca won nine of 10 faceoffs Friday, a skill the Lightning badly needs.
  4. Bucs players respond to Trump comments on anthem protests

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump shared his thoughts Friday night on NFL players protesting during the national anthem, suggesting that NFL owners should "fire" players who kneel during the anthem in protest. His remarks are alreading drawing responses from many NFL players, including some Bucs.

    Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.
  5. Rays morning after: Wilson Ramos showing glimpses of what's possible in 2018

    Blogs

    The real payoff for the Rays signing C Wilson Ramos last off-season will come in 2018, when he can play a full season fully recovered from right knee surgery.

    Catcher Wilson Ramos connects for a two-run single in the fifth inning against the Cubs on Sept. 20, 2017.