Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Losing 20 last thing on mind of Rays' Archer

CHICAGO — Chris Archer will take the mound tonight as he has 32 previous times this season seeking to lead the Rays to a win.

But more relevant is that he doesn't lose.

That's because if he does, Archer will become the first major-league pitcher in 13 seasons, and just the second in the past 37, to have 20 losses.

Archer, understandably, isn't pondering the possibility.

"Going into every start, I'm not thinking about getting a loss," he said Wednesday. "I'm trying to do everything I can to win the game. And I feel like up to this point, I prepare myself more than anybody to be in a position to win. It's just what that given day gives me, gives the team and gives the other team."

The bit of existentialism at the end is part of Archer's perspective that losses — and wins — are not an accurate measure of a starter's performance.

That view has become increasingly common around the game. It's based on both the common sense aspect of how many other factors determine which team wins a game and which pitcher gets credit; and the ongoing evolution of advanced stats and metrics that provide more detailed methods to gauge performance.

But, still, 20 losses?

Mike Maroth was the last one to get there, losing 21 — while also winning a team-high nine — as the opening-day starter on a brutally bad 2003 Tigers squad that lost 119 overall.

Maroth, living in his native Orlando and working as a rehab coordinator for the Braves, said he doesn't hear much about it these days except, well, when a pitcher gets to 19 losses like Archer has and it comes up on TV or reporters call.

At the time, Maroth said, "It was very challenging, more from the mental standpoint of going out there and trying to really battle. We all go out there as players to win games, so when you are constantly losing games it becomes pressing."

All these years later, it hasn't become much more palatable.

"I've never really had any fun with it," he said. "Is it one of those things where people mention it and I'm like, 'No, stop talking?' No. It happened. It's something that happened that year. Anybody who understands the game knows it goes much deeper than that.

"As far as accepting it, I have to accept it. It's part of the game. That happened. That was the year. Those are my numbers. They are not going to change, no matter what."

Archer hasn't pitched that badly this season. And there has been a lot out of his control factoring in — occasionally poor defense, an unstable bullpen, a lack of run support, with the Rays scoring two or fewer for him in 15 of the 19 losses. (Overall, the Rays are 9-23 in his starts.)

Consider that Archer is 8-19 with a 4.02 ERA while ex-Rays ace David Price, pitching for the first-place Red Sox in the same division, is 17-9 with a 4.04.

But, still, 20 losses?

"A lot of entities in the game today have somewhat diminished the importance of wins and losses, and while that may be the way that things are viewed right now, the one thing that I can assure is that 20 losses will be something that stays with you for a long time," said Rays TV analyst Brian Anderson, who was 82-83 during 13 seasons in the majors.

"Let's hope that Chris forces Mike Maroth to carry the mantle a little while longer."

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey said there is "a stigma" with 20 losses, just like other similarly round numbers. And while acknowledging circumstances did factor in, he isn't absolving Archer of blame for the bottom line.

"You can't undo things that happened. You can certainly go back and say, 'Boy, if he didn't have this rough stretch, he would be this that and the other,' " Hickey said.

"But I hope he would be the first to say that he didn't pitch well throughout the course of the season, because he didn't pitch well throughout the course of the season. He pitched well on a lot of occasions, and not so well on a lot of other occasions.

"And I really hate the downplay of the wins and the losses really don't matter. Because they do matter. They are out of your control a lot of times."

Maroth was the first to lose 20 since Brian Kingman 23 years earlier, so it was something of a big deal then, as it will be if Archer joins him. (And, no, there won't be any reverse 1972 Dolphins-like champagne popping if Maroth gets off the hook.) It may be even more so as Archer would be the first to lose 20 the season after being an All-Star since Phil Niekro in 1979.

Archer didn't want to ponder what 20 Ls would mean to him.

"I don't know," he said. "I'll have to answer that if it happens. I'm not planning on that happening, so I'm not planning on having to answer that question."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected].

Comments
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 6 hours ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

RHP Alex Cobb has already pitched twice against his former Rays mates in Baltimore and said it didn't feel that weird, especially since there were so many new faces in the lineup.But coming back to the Trop, where he made his big-league debut and spe...
Published: 05/25/18
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Published: 05/24/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Published: 05/24/18