Chris Archer was removed for a right shoulder injury after the first inning of the Pirates' game Tuesday night against the Nationals. He cringed and buckled slightly following a sailing warmup pitch before the second inning, summoned catcher Jacob Stallings toward him, then both motioned for athletic trainer Bryan Housand to emerge from the dugout. After about a minute's discussion, Housand and Clint Hurdle went to the mound and, another minute after that, Housand and Archer were down the tunnel.
The team described the matter as "right shoulder discomfort" shortly after it occurred, and there wasn't much of an update afterward. Archer left without speaking to reporters, and Hurdle mostly deferred to the original report other than adding that an MRI and a doctor's examination would take place Wednesday.
“Obviously, it was fine the first inning the way he threw the ball and cut them up, and then something just reacted wrong in his warmups,” Hurdle said. “His warmups were all out of whack.”
Here's the scene:
Our Matt Sunday had noticed Archer getting massage treatment on a shoulder in the dugout -- and appearing plenty uncomfortable throughout -- this past weekend.
Archer hasn't rediscovered his Tampa Bay All-Star form since arriving last July in the trade that sent Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz to the Rays. He had a 4.30 ERA in 10 starts with the Pirates in 2018, and now has a 5.19 ERA in 23 starts this season. But that latter figure doesn't tell the full tale: Over his past 10 starts, beginning June 22 against the Padres, when he decided to cut down on his two-seamers, he's had a 4.50 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and, most promising, a 31 percent strikeout rate. The latter would represent a career high, extrapolated over a full season.
On this night, too, in his one inning and 17 pitches, he allowed two sharply struck singles but also got two swinging strikeouts to leave them stranded. One was 95-mph heat high and tight on Juan Soto, the other a 91-mph slider, also tight, to Asdrubal Cabrera.
Archer, 30, has two club options remaining with the Pirates, each for $8.25 million. If the team buys out either option, it costs $1.75 million.