Pittsburgh Pirates right handed starter Chris Archer will miss the entire 2020 season after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery
Earlier today, it was announced that Pittsburgh Pirates right handed starting pitcher Chris Archer will undergo thoracic outlet surgery, and will miss the entirety of the 2020 season if there is a season. The Pirates themselves released the news on twitter.
Yesterday, Chris Archer underwent surgery to relieve symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.
Archer is projected to return to full competition for the 2021 season.
— Pirates (@Pirates) June 3, 2020
This kind of surgery does not have a good track record of pitchers finding their way back to being successful major league pitchers. Although there are a few success stories such as Chris Carpenter and Chris Young, they are outweighed by the failures like Tyler Thronburg, Matt Harvey, Tyson Ross, and Carter Capps. All 4 of those pitchers at one point looked to be guys with All-Star potential but are barely in baseball right now.
This comes as a big blow to the Pittsburgh Pirates for multiple reasons. For one, Archer was seen as a bounce back candidate for the team. After multiple years of being a solid and durable pitcher, Archer failed to pitch in more than 25 games in 2019 after incurring a shoulder injury. Through 119.2 innings of work, Archer had a 5.19 ERA, 5.02 FIP and 1.41 WHIP. He also had a 4.38 SIERA and 4.36 xFIP. Home runs were the main culprit to Archer’s struggles as he surrendered 25 long balls. This is after a three year stretch from 2016 to 2018 where he put up much more solid numbers including a 4.12 ERA, 3.64 FIP and 1.28 WHIP.
Another reason that this is a big blow to the Pittsburgh Pirates is that Archer was seen as one of the team’s more valuable trade pieces. Now, yes, Archer hasn’t been an ace since 2015, but if he bounced back, which was a complete possibility, he could have been an attractive trade piece next off season. His value right now is the lowest it can be seeing as not only is he coming off the worst season of his career, but is also going to miss an entire season. It’s highly likely the Pirates don’t even pick up Archer’s option for 2021, and instead buy him out for $250,000. It is very realistic that Archer has pitched his final game as a Pirate.
Archer was also primed to play a large role in the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation. In one of my recent articles, I talked about how the Pirates could potentially reach the playoffs given the shortened season, and the right hander would have likely played a large role in that. Seeing as he was previously a durable and decent number three level starter, it would have been very helpful to the club to get a handful of solid outings out of Archer. After all, he was not an awful pitcher before 2019.
But this might go down as one of the worst trades the Pirates ever made. To acquire Archer, the Pirates had to give up Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz. Meadows and Glasnow, two former top 10 prospects, have become stars in Tampa Bay, and Baz is seen as a top 100 prospect, with some sites even claiming him to be a top 30 prospect like Baseball Prospectus.
But we can’t go back in time and reverse the trade. If the Pirates do pick up Archer’s option, he should be ready for the 2021 season. We here at Rum Bunter wish Archer a speedy recovery, and hope to see him make it back to a major league pitching mound.