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Chris Archer had a rough night on Friday, giving up 6 runs in 5.0 innings including 4 home runs in the 6-1 loss. Most would chalk it up to an off night, but Toronto Blue Jays announcer Buck Martinez is worried something else is up.

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, Martinez noted during the Jays-Red Sox game that he doesn’t think Archer is “physically right.”

That’s certainly odd.

On the one hand, Martinez is a former big-league catcher and may have a good eye for picking up on subtle indicators that a pitcher is dealing with an injury. But on the other hand, Buck was in Toronto working his own game.

Did Martinez see highlights that tipped him off? Did he see something when Archer faced the Jays on opening day? If he latter, it would be odd that Martinez wouldn’t have said something then and despite a rough first inning, Archer dominated the Jays batters, striking out 12 of the final 19 batters he faced.

A few people have noted that Archer looked at his hand a few times during Friday’s game. But that could just be because it was a cold night and he had trouble gripping the ball.

So let’s look at the numbers. A quick look at his pitch velocities from Start 1 and Start 2 shows that his fastball and slider were consistent. It does look like he was overthrowing his change a little bit against the O’s, but he only threw that six times on Friday which shouldn’t have been enough for Baltimore batters to tee off on it.

01

The next thing we can look at is the movement on Archer’s slider. If there is any tenderness in his arm, he might not be able to “snap” his slider as much which would result in less movement. And in fact, two of the four home runs were off of sliders.

Now we have a red flag.

This is from the point of view of the catcher and batter. Each line shows how the slider moves, starting at 0,0 and moving down and to the right. Clearly there was a lot less movement on Archer’s slider against the Orioles, not dipping as much or moving to the right as much.

02

But wait. While that sounds a little bit ominous, again, it could have just been because of the cold and an inability to get a good grip on the ball.

We also don’t know what is “normal” for Archer. So let’s add in the movement from all of his 2015 starts as a third line.

Wait a minute. Now things are getting weird. Archer’s slider on Friday was actually much more like his 2015 slider in terms of movement. That’s a good sign.

03

But what about his velocities. Maybe we should be adding in his 2015 velocities to see how they compare to his 2015 starts so far.

Uh oh.

Archer’s fastball and slider velocities are both way down this season, over 1.0 MPH for both.

04

Does this mean Archer is injured? Nope. It is early and maybe Archer’s arm just isn’t in shape yet. But that would be unusual for Archer. His fastball velocity in his first two starts of the 2015 season was 96.4 MPH and his slider velocity was 88.1 MPH, suggesting he was in top shape right out of the gate last year.

This is still not to say Archer is injured. This is just two starts and there is a long ways to go. But it is something to keep an eye and something to be mildly worried about, just ask Buck.

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2 Comments

  1. doug says:

    The Toronto inning was due to being "over amped" in the 1st inning. He was over striding and his location was up, and movement was not there.
    The Baltimore event should be forgotten as a weather anomaly Same with yesterday's result...not to worry...yet..

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    • Joe Dunn says:

      Agree---only 1 or 2 bad innings vs Jays
      By the way - - the great 2008 season started out 7 - 10

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