A few days ago, Chris Archer pitched eight shutout innings in which he gave up only two hits, no walks, and struck twelve batters. He was pulled after that, and Brad Boxberger gave up a three-run homer, but we're not here to talk about the losses. It's time to talk about just how good Chris Archer is.
The answer is, "really good." Among qualified starters, he has the twelfth-best ERA and the fourth-best FIP and xFIP. He's this good because his fastball and his slider are both amazing, and he's developed pinpoint command of both of them. But there's another question that follow Archer wherever he goes, because we fans like to dream.
"What about his changeup?"
Early on in the season, Kevin discussed the changes in the shape of Archer's changeup, and concluded that there were signs of a possible improvement. Now, Jason Hanselman, who runs Dock of the Rays, has circled back to check in on the results from the changeup.
Archer has only been throwing his changeup marginally more often, but when he does throw it, good things have started to happen. Says Jason:
On his way to striking out 12 batters yesterday Archer threw 14 change ups that yielded a total of 2 balls. He induced a pop up, three grounders, a fly ball, and a line drive on eight swings with the other two going for a whiff and a foul. None of these fell for a hit. He got good results from the pitch so can this serve as a turning point or will it prove to be a high water mark that will occasionally be met, but rarely bested? Let’s trace the evolution of this pitch a few different ways to get an idea of whether he’s improving or if the pitch continues to stagnate. I want to start with every single change up that he has thrown in his career and I’ll be using the indispensable Baseball Savant to do so.
And then here's the first graph:
There's more where that came from, and it's good work, separating out location and ball-in-play results, so give the full thing a read.
Chris Archer is showing the world that he doesn't need a changeup. But he's also starting to show that he may actually have one, and that's a scary thought for baseball.