In the sport of horse racing, the term “bounce” is one that is used to describe a thoroughbred that follows up a career-best running effort with a dud. That term can also pertain to fantasy baseball when it comes to young starting pitchers. The premise centers on a pitcher under the age of 27 who makes a sizable jump in innings thrown and then the next season struggles with his stuff due to an arm that does not come back all the way to top strength as a result of fatigue from the previous year’s workload. That certainly applied to the Tampa Bay Rays’ Chris Archer in 2016 as the righthander was downright horrific the first half of the year when he pitched to a 4.66 ERA and .1.44 WHIP. Archer gave up 18 home runs in 110 first half innings and he also walked the ballpark (3.93 BB/9). In short, Archer looked about as opposite as can be from his monster 2015 breakout when he struck out 252 batters and posted a tiny 3.01 ERA. Based on his ugly 2016 first half, many openly questioned if Archer’s performance the year before was a fluke. Well Archer answered that question during the second half of last season as the dominance returned (3.25 ERA and 1.87 BB/9). By the end of the season, Archer cleared the 230-K mark once again with a total of 233 and his overall 4.02 ERA was good considering the tough start. Putting it all together, Archer has now strung back-to-back seasons together where his K/9 has been above the 10.00 mark and that is Max Scherzer or Chris Sale territory. While Archer still gives up too many home runs and battles control issues from time-to-time, there are few arms in baseball that can deliver such impressive heat. Finally, the 4.02 ERA will act as somewhat of a cover in keeping Archer’s draft price low enough to where you could make a major value score. Buy in heavily.
2017 PROJECTION: 12-9 3.52 ERA 1.15 WHIP 230 K