In a worrisome moment for the Pirates, starter Chris Archer left his start against the Nationals after throwing an errant warm-up pitch before the second inning. Per Mark Zuckerman of MASN, the Pirates are calling it right shoulder discomfort for Archer.
Archer made it through the first inning of Tuesday’s game without issue, striking out the final two batters to work around a pair of singles. However, while warming up prior to the second inning, Archer threw high to catcher Jacob Stallings, shook his head, and walked off the field after meeting with the Pittsburgh training staff.
Of course, the seriousness of Archer’s soreness is yet unknown and will be monitored as details emerge. Regardless, it’s an unpleasant situation for a Pirates team that has already seen its top starter undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery this year. Any significant injury to Archer would only weaken an already-thin pitching staff that entered the season looking like the Pirates’ strength.
The Pirates hold a club option worth $9MM to retain Archer for the 2020 season, a decision that could be complicated by the introduction of a health issue. His Pittsburgh tenure has been a tumultuous one, with Archer’s underwhelming performance only amplified by the hefty return that the Pirates sent to Tampa Bay in return. This season, the 30-year-old has struggled to a 5.23 ERA, made worse only by the fact that peripheral markers don’t paint a much better picture, giving Archer credit for a 5.07 FIP.
While those numbers alone may challenge whether Archer is worth the $9MM option, an underlying health question might motivate the Pirates to prematurely cut ties with the former ace. However, given how heavily the Pirates invested in him at last season’s trade deadline, it would seem unwise to jump ship so quickly on a pitcher with Archer’s pure talent. To be sure, $9MM, while certainly not a bargain, is an affordable mark for even a middling starter—Matt Harvey, for example, signed with the Angels for $11MM prior to 2019.