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Chris Archer Is Looking To Break Out With The Pittsburgh Pirates

Chris Archer's MLB career has been somewhat of an enigma.

Chris Archer’s MLB career has been somewhat of an enigma. Hes a two-time All-Star but has a career losing record of 54-68. Hes long been considered one of the games rising golden arms, but the Black Knight’s been hit with some rough luck. He’s had just two winning seasons in his seven-year career. 

After almost seven seasons as an inconsistent, but lethal shining star and the face of a struggling Tampa Bay franchise, Archer, who never fulfilled his potential with the Rays, was traded to the Pirates. 

Brian Kenny on Twitter

The fascinating Chris Archer trade: #MLBNow #DiggingIn #Pirates #Rays https://t.co/SlDWPgfLxS

His first start with Pittsburgh was inauspicious, as he surrendered four earned runs, four walks, seven hits and a lead off homer against St. Louis on Friday. He did K six batters and walked off to a standing ovation as Pirates fans expressed their joy about the organization going out and getting a potential top line starter. 


Zachary Smith on Twitter

Y’all might remember Chris Archer’s debut by his box score but this is how I’ll remember it. https://t.co/vik4ZtwCku


Archer has all of the tools and can be a huge piece in the Pirates post-Andrew McCutchen era. His time in Tampa Bay was full of highs and lows, and never as remarkable as it could have been. His journey is one of great perseverance, so the thought that his career will take off in a Pirates uniform is not far-fetched. 

Chris Archer on Twitter

What a game! What an atmosphere! You guys were beyond belief. Let’s gooooooo

The fireballer out of Clayton, North Carolina  was the third best prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays organization and the 89th best prospect in baseball before the 2012 season, in which he got a cup of coffee in the big league’s. 


In his rookie season in 2013, he took MLB by storm, going  97 with a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts. 

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Among AL rookies, Archer ranked first in ERA, opponents’ average (.226), complete games (two), shutouts (two), hits per nine innings (7.5) and WHIP (1.13). He was named the AL Pitcher of the Month and AL Rookie of the Month for July. He finished third in voting for AL Rookie of the Year. 


He was immediately tabbed a future star and potential Cy Young award winner. He joined a Rays staff that already had baseballs supreme Black Knight in David Price, giving Tampa two Black Ace pitchers, a rarity, to anchor a formidable pitching staff in 2012 and 2013, before Price — 20-game winner and Cy Young Award winner in 2012 —  was shipped to Detroit. 

Chris Archer 2013 Highlights

All rights go to MLB.COM/MLB Advanced Media/Avicii/Vicetone

It was also the last time Tampa was in serious contention in the loaded AL East, registering back-to back 90-win seasons. Since then, former manager Joe Maddon has won a World Series with the Cubs and the franchise hasnt won more than 80 games. 

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Archer was supposed to seamlessly fill Prices shoes. He was a younger stud with unlimited potential, while Price was older, injury prone and way too expensive for the Rays budget. 

Archers had flashes of brilliance, but  the last time he really balled out was in 2015 when he went 1213 with a 3.23 ERA and 252 strikeouts on a bad team, finishing 5th in the American League Cy Young Award voting. He was still recognized as a star, a hard-luck pitcher on a shady team that didnt get the run support, but flexed the mound muscle. 



Chris Archer Ultimate 2015 Highlights

12-13, 3.23 ERA, 212 Innings, 252 K’s,


Then in 2016, he took a leap backwards as he had a league leading 19 losses and a carer-high ERA of 4.01, competing on a terrible Rays team that won just 68 games. Despite his 9-19 record, Archer had a 3.25 second half ERA and still racked up  233 strikeouts, which tied him for second in the American League behind the great Justin Verlander.

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In 2017, the Rays continued losing, but Archer continued to accomplish some milestones while still falling short of the gigantic expectations that his sensational rookie season imposed on him. 

Chris Archer 2017 Highlights

10-12, 4.07 ERA, 201 IP, 249 K, 60 BB, 1.26 WHIP

That season, he set a franchise record for strikeouts in a month, mowing down 58 and smashing David Price’s record of 53. Archer made his second All-Star game and also recorded his 1,000th career strikeout, becoming the 9th player in history to achieve this feat in 154 games or less. 


The stuff is still there for Archer. It was just time for him to move on. A fresh start in Pittsburgh will probably be what he needs to really take off and start to warm it up. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.