Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Back In Tampa Bay, Could Chris Archer Return To Fantasy Viability?


When the Tampa Bay Rays traded Chris Archer to the Pirates back in 2018, they received a three-player haul (Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow & Shane Baz). That trade was already lopsided, and Archer’s performance in Pittsburgh made it that much worse, but now two-and-a-half years later Archer is back in Tampa Bay while Pittsburgh is left with nothing to show for the trade.

Now fantasy owners are left to wonder, could Archer return to fantasy relevance?

There are a few issues that obviously can’t be overlooked:

  • Archer missed all of 2020 with thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Archer will return to the AL East, where he will routinely have to face off with the Yankees and Blue Jays
  • Archer hasn’t posted an ERA below 4.00 since 2015

Obviously his name brings some type of intrigue, because of the upside that was once associated with him. Now 32-years old and having not thrown a pitch in an MLB game since August 20, 2019, is there anyway to expect him to be productive?

You have to wonder if there were injury issues that caused his struggles in 2019 (5.19 ERA over 119.2 IP), but a 4.14 BB/9 and 1.88 HR/9 will raise significant red flags. The latter is arguably the bigger concern, especially with the teams he’ll routinely have to face. He had seen his groundball rate plummet (36.3%) and it had never been a true strong point (HR/9 of 1.15 or greater since 2016).

Then you have his control, which was bad in ’19 and you have to wonder whether it’ll return given the lengthy absence. You combine those two things, in the AL East, and why would we think anything could change?

Archer’s name is going to create intrigue and his return to Tampa Bay will draw attention. However, that doesn’t make him a worthy late round gamble. The negatives far outweigh the positives, so steer clear.

Source – Fangraphs


  1. RP: Love to hear how you would approach starting pitching in an AL-Only 5×5 11-team auction league with 8 keepers. It seems to me that this may be the shallowest SP year ever. Maybe top 15 solid, but feels like 20+ all serious wild cards.


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