Mets Should Pursue Chris Archer
After all that transpired during the 2019 season and the complete organization overhaul, it’s clear the Pittsburgh Pirates are rebuilding their organization. While the name we have heard floating in trade rumors is Starling Marte, it is very possible the Pirates would be willing to move Chris Archer as well. If that is the case, the Mets should be interested.
One of the reasons to pursue him is Archer is likely at the nadir of his trade value after what has been a terrible stint with the Pirates giving a team an opportunity to obtain him and return him to what he once was with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Putting aside his short Major League debut in 2012, Archer set career worsts in ERA, IP, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, HR/9, and BB/9. He was also near his worst in other categories. Additionally, Archer would be shut down towards the end of August with right shoulder inflammation. Although, it should be noted that did not stop the Pirates from picking up his $9 million option.
Even with the down year, Archer did show a flash he could be a very good pitcher again. In his four August starts before being shut down, he had a 3.00 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, and a 13.5 K/9. It is a short sample size for sure, but it was an encouraging sign. There were other encouraging signs as well.
According to Baseball Savant, Archer had above average fastball velocity and elite curve ball spin. This was part of the reason why he had a very good strikeout rate. For him, that did not translate to dominating results. One of the reasons why is his location was poor and/or he was pitching to the wrong parts of the strike zone. It certainly didn’t help that he was not catching the bottom of the strike zone like he once did, and he was hit hard.
To a certain extent, that’s not unlike the struggles Noah Syndergaard experienced in 2019. To that end, the same issues which Syndergaard faced with the new ball affected Archer’s performance as well. Conversely, as noted by Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times, this has been an issue with Archer since 2018. Ironically, his catcher that year was Wilson Ramos.
When it comes to Syndergaard, new Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is going to have to find a way to figure out how to get Syndergaard to succeed with Ramos behind the plate. If he is successful, we should expect Syndergaard to return to his 2016 level. If Hefner is going to be successful in that endeavor, he can have the same exact impact on Archer who attacks batters and the zone in a similar fashion.
If you are the Mets, you are gambling on Hefner making things work between Syndergaard and Ramos. The season is going to sink or swim based upon his ability to get through to the two of them. If that is where you are hedging your bets, you might as well go all-in and try to do the same with Archer.
This is the boat the Mets are in now that they let Zack Wheeler go to the Phillies. The question for the team is do they try to sink or swim with an Archer or slowly drift out to sea with a pitcher like Rick Porcello. Given the Mets plan, Archer seems like the better option.