The Pittsburgh Pirates rotation has been the team’s strength in the second half of the season. The biggest name of them all is starting to improve.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Chris Archer, it led to a somewhat revival of the fan base. If there was any a time this calendar year that the Pittsburgh Pirates were being talked about in an exciting way, it was at the trade deadline when the team acquired him. The Pittsburgh Pirates went out and gave up top-tier prospects and brought in an established pitcher who has the ability to be an all-star.
However, despite all the excitement, things did not get off to a very promising start for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chris Archer. Archer made his début against the St. Louis Cardinals on the August 3rd. He only recorded one out in the fifth inning and gave up seven hits, five runs (three earned), but did strike out six. Still, he was wildly inefficient, falling behind most batters, and he threw 95 pitches with 38 of them balls.
This ended up being a trend for Archer through the month of August. Archer pitched his worse month of baseball since April. He only threw 22.1 innings and had an earned run average of 6.45. In those 22.1 innings, Archer walked nine batters and opposing hitters posted a .309 batting average against him with hitters getting on-base at a .374 clip. Also, he gave up four home runs in five of his starts. However, he did still record 24 strikeouts showing he still had swing and miss stuff. Even Archer’s one good start of the month was not great. On August 20th against Atlanta, he gave up one earned run, but only pitched four innings.
The good news is that once the calendar changed to September things started to change for Archer. Things needed to, as Meadows was tearing up Triple-A for the Rays and Glasnow was showing promise as a starter at the big league level. The Pittsburgh Pirates saw Chris Archer respond.
So far through September, Archer has thrown 30 innings through five starts. So he already has thrown 7.2 more innings than he did last month in the same amount of starts. Furthermore, his earned run average is so much more impressive sitting at 2.70. He also has struck out 36 batters in those innings. One thing that is proportional to his month of August is that he does once again have nine walks, but this is also in many more innings. Still, his on-base percentage against sits at .282 with a .213 batting average against.
What has led to this change? Most likely the mechanical changes that Archer and Ray Searage have made. The biggest one of note is that he is now pitching out of the stretch at all times. A lot of times this allows pitchers to stay more aligned with home plate and thus have better command of their pitches. This seems to be the case for Archer as he is throwing more first pitch strikes and not walking as many batters. All in all, it is good to see Archer starting to turn the corner and hopefully he will carry his improvements into next season.