Update: Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) tweeted that Archer feels better this morning, although he still has some tightness in his right lateral forearm. The hurler remains optimistic that there is nothing seriously wrong. The plan, assuming Dr. Eaton concurs that the injury is muscular and not structural, is to play catch on Monday, and throw a bullpen session later in week.
Last night Chris Archer was pulled from his start after two home runs, diminished velocity, a lack of fastball command and just eight pitches. The reported culprit: right lateral forearm tightness.
Chris Archer has exited the game, replaced by Austin Pruitt. We will pass along any further info as it becomes available.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 2, 2017
Chris Archer left tonight’s game with right lateral forearm tightness. His removal was precautionary.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 3, 2017
The team called the decision to take him out of his start a precautionary one, giving the Rays — who are playing relevant baseball in the month of September — a glimmer of hope moving forward.
Archer felt tightness toward the tail end of his pregame bullpen session, and the discomfort was obvious when he took the mound in the first inning — given the homers by the first two batter in the lineup, and just one pitch topping 94mph.
It’s not pain, it’s tight. And didn’t allow me to get to full extension. And that’s what leads to more serious injuries, when you’re trying to alter your delivery. And I knew from those first eight pitches I threw I couldn’t get anything down in the zone.
In the bullpen prior to going into the game I just started feeling a little tightness in my forearm on the back side, Archer said. I think they call it the lateral side. We feel stuff all throughout the year, every player, pitchers and position players, I thought after I warmed up in the game it would just be gone, but it didn’t (go away). Every time I tried to get to full extension, I couldn’t get there. It just felt like it was smarter to not risk any further injury trying to force myself through some tightness in my arm.
Archer was reassured by head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield, who told him the tightness was in an area where “there is nothing major,” just muscle.
The lateral forearm also isn’t directly connected to the UCL, which should quell the fears of anyone presuming Tommy John surgery to be in Archer’s future. You can see the area in question in the illustration below.
We’re cautiously optimistic there’s no real issue, manager Kevin Cash said after the game. That’s probably the best news of the night.
Archer will fly home with the team after Sunday afternoon’s contest, and is scheduled to see team doctor Koco Eaton on Monday.
Archer is cautiously optimistic as well, hoping that he will be able to make his next scheduled start on Friday in Boston, “If I’m capable.”
Hopefully, Archer said, this is something that will subside in the next 24-48 hours.
Since he was called up to stay in the big leagues in 2013, Archer has made 151 starts — the most anyone has made in the majors in that span. His durability has benefitted the team, as Archer — thanks to the fact that he has never been on the disabled list — has been the most dependable hurler in the Rays rotation.
Interestingly enough, the right-hander does not find himself in unchartered waters, as he had a similar injury scare on August 7, 2013, when he left a game in Arizona for precautionary reasons due to forearm tightness. He took the mound again six days later.
That before was technically a cramp, Archer said. We were in Arizona, it was super hot, but it was in the same area. This is more — it’s not pain, it’s just tight and didn’t allow me to get to full extension. That’s what leads to more serious injuries, when you’re trying to alter your delivery.
In spite of the team’s recent struggles, the Rays are still positioned to make a run at a playoff berth. However, that difficult task won’t be any easier if Archer has to miss an extended amount time in September, the final month of play.