A .214 BAA belies some calamitous results for Archer’s changeup, anchored by a swollen 36.4% HR/FB rate. The offspeed pitch’s swinging-strike rate sank 7% from 2018, and opponents stopped chasing the offering out of the strike zone: 2018’s 43.3% O-Swing dropped a stark 15.4% to 27.9% in 2019.
The swinging-strike rate for Archer’s curveball more than doubled from 2018 (5.3%) to 2019 (11.6%), but thrown just 43 times last season, the pitch remains a footnote in his repertoire.
After his heater suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous (but statistically-deserved) fortune in 2018, Archer’s four-seamer started making a comeback in the second half of 2019, once he started shelving a lousy sinker. The heater sports above-average velocity (94.4 mph), and maybe the hire of a new pitching coach in Pittsburgh will help right the ship and fix Archer’s fastball.
Archer’s slider might not be elite like it once was (22.5 pVAL in 2015), it still is a very good pitch and in 2019 he had the highest swinging-strike rate on it of his career. While he moved more to his fastball in 2019 it helped set the slider up more and he ended up allowing less contact on it while getting more swings out of the zone with it.
Still a solid pitch by pVal (6.1), this once-elite slider didn’t hold up as well for Archer (down from a 19.5 pVal in 2017). It still has the hallmarks of a Money Pitch with a 44.6% O-swing, 43.6 Zone%, and a 19.7 SwStr%, while its K% and BB% held steady. So perhaps there’s good reason to hope for a rebound in 2018.
Archer’s fastball abandoned him in 2018, posting a brutal -9.4 pVal. The pitch lost 0.7 mph in velocity and 1.6 inches of movement. It didn’t generate nearly enough whiffs (6.5 SwStr%) and got hit hard for .308 AVG, 207 ISO, and a 157 wRC+.
While the results weren’t necessarily there (-1.0 pVal in 2018), Archer’s changeup was actually a Money Pitch in 2018 with an 18.6 SwStr%, 46.0 Zone%, and 43.3 O-swing%. It also made large strides in K-BB%, improving from 0.0% in 2017 to 14.1% in 2018. It’s likely that an elevated 16.7 HR/FB% combined with a .309 Avg. against to hurt Archer’s results with the pitch. If Archer can replicate this Money Pitch status in 2019, it should end up a better weapon for him.
Archer hadn’t throw this pitch since 2014, and it appears that bringing it back wasn’t a great idea. Likely a product of the new hitting environment that values pitching up in the zone, it took a big dive from being solid (6.3 pVal in 2014) to below average (-1.0 pVal in 2018) with little to no change in its peripherals. He also threw it way less (226 times in 2018 compared to 1,294 times in 2014) so perhaps it would have fared better in a larger sample.
Only thrown 38 times in 2018, Archer’s curveball was a neutral pitch in a small sample yet seems to generate too many fly balls (50.0 FB%, 0.0 IFFB%) without striking out or walking anyone.