It has been a long road for Chris Archer in becoming one of baseball’s prime pitchers.
Now the unquestioned ace of the Tampa Bay Rays, the 26-year-old is having the best year of his young career, one that may even be CY Young worthy. This 2015 campaign has been Archer’s coming out party. He has positioned himself in the top-10 amongst all MLB pitchers with a 2.00 ERA, and is one of the game’s best strikeout artists.
A lot of the credit goes to a devastating slider, a pitch that is gaining notoriety as one the best in baseball.
“I don’t think baseball has seen this pitch before,” Detroit Tigers starting pitcher David Price stated to ESPN. “It’s the best pitch in baseball by far. Chris Sale has an unbelievable slider and change-up, and Felix (Hernandez)’s change-up is phenomenal and (Clayton) Kershaw’s curveball is really good. But if anybody in baseball could have one pitch, it’s got to be Archer’s slider.”
Originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft, Archer has paid his dues to reach “ace” status. He spent two years in the Indians system before being traded to the Chicago Cubs. After being named the 2010 Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the year, Archer was added to the Cubs 40-man roster to prevent selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
However, a player with Archer’s minor league pedigree can be an integral piece for a major trade. The Cubs traded Archer to the Tampa Bay Rays in a deal that saw Chicago acquire Matt Garza. He has since seen his career flourish in Tampa, and became the first pitcher the Rays didn’t draft to start a game since Garza in September 2010.
To further the argument of Archer’s CY Young credentials, he became the first pitcher in modern major-league history to record three consecutive games of 10 strikeouts and no walks.
His approach to the the game is simple, just take it one pitch at a time.
“When I’m out there, I’m not thinking about strikeouts. Even whenever I ‘need’ a strikeout, I’m just trying to execute every pitch. And if you do that, and you simplify it to that, then you start to do great things. “His stuff seems like it gets better with every outing,” Rays manager Kevin Cash stated to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
“I don’t know if that makes much sense.”
With the Rays fighting for the A.L. East lead, they have to feel confident that they have a legitimate CY Young candidate on the mound every five games. And while we haven’t even reached the All-Star break, it’s pretty safe to say that Chris Archer deserves to be in the conversation as one of baseball’s best pitchers.