The Pittsburgh Pirates plan to shut down injured right-hander Chris Archer for the remainder of the season, general manager Neal Huntington told reporters including Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archer landed on the injured list on August 21 after prematurely exiting a start the previous day with shoulder discomfort.
While Archer’s season is over, he remains a near-lock to return to the Pirates next year. The team holds a relatively affordable $9MM club option for the 2020 season, and Huntington has given every indication that he intends to exercise that option and bring back Archer for another year.
Regardless, the 2019 season will go down as a forgettable one for Archer, who finishes the year with a 5.19 ERA, the worst mark of his career. He was able to maintain an above-average strikeout rate, but trouble with walks and home runs neutralized that impact. It’s worth noting that in August, prior to the injury, Archer had been enjoying his best month of the season and seemed to finally be trending upward. However, any progress will now be put on hold until next season.
Unfortunately for Archer, he will always be judged in the face of the blockbuster trade that sent him to Pittsburgh. As Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and even Shane Baz have flourished with Tampa Bay, Archer’s struggles make the deal look like one of the most lopsided in recent memory. With that in mind, the decision to pick up his option is at the very least an effort to mitigate the bad optics of the trade, which would look even worse if the Pirates cut ties with the prized starter after just one full season.
As for the Pirates, they have been rolling with right-hander Dario Agrazal since Archer hit the shelf. Unfortunately, the rookie hasn’t fared much better than Archer, having struck out just 30 batters in 62 1/3 innings.