Rays’ Archer to start franchise-record 4th straight opener

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Chris Archer has been picked as the Tampa Bay Rays’ opening day starter for a franchise-record fourth consecutive season.

Archer is set to pitch against the Boston Red Sox on March 29 at Tropicana Field, the team announced Thursday. The 29-year-old right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.57 ERA on opening day.

Archer will tie James Shields for most opening day starts overall for the franchise. Shields pitched three straight openers from 2008-10 and another in 2012. Former ace David Price made three opening day starts for the franchise, which began play in 1998.

“It’s always a goal of mine, and it’s such a pitching-rich organization, it’s an honor every single year to represent the Tampa Bay Rays on the first game of the season,” Archer said. “Obviously there’s a little extra energy, but I feel like since it is my fourth one I know how to tame it and control it a little bit more than if it was my first.”

Archer was 10-12 with a 4.07 ERA in 34 starts last year and is 51-63 with a 3.63 ERA in six big league seasons. The two-time All-Star was tied for ninth among major league pitchers with 4.6 wins above replacement, per Fangraphs.

Blake Snell will follow in the opening four-game series against Boston, followed by a bullpen day and Nate Eovaldi. Jake Faria will start at the New York Yankees’ home opener on April 2.

Rays Manager Kevin Cash said earlier in spring training the Rays will use a four-man rotation to open the season and rely on the bullpen to cover games that would have gone to a fifth starter.

“We’re pretty dynamic,” Archer said. “I feel like Snell is poised to have a great year, if he continues to throw the ball like he has in spring and how he finished last season, and having Eovaldi to just come in there and blow gas and show what he’s learned over the last year while he was rehabbing.”


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