Game #1: April 3, 2016 – 4:05 ET
Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67 ERA, 3.54 FIP) vs.
Chris Archer (12-13, 3.23 ERA, 2.90 FIP)
The aforementioned opening day matchup is a good one, but while both of these pitchers offer immense talent, they attack hitters in distinctly different ways.
Archer is coming off his best season, putting up a 5.3 fWAR, and he is a pure power pitcher, using his 96.11 mph 4-seam fastball 54.19% of the time and his 88.63 mph slider 39.22%. Against RHH, he completely abandons his changeup, as he becomes a two pitch pitcher, but those two pitches are so dominant he can get away with the lack of diversity. Against LHH he’ll use his change about 12% of the time, offering a bit of a more diverse look.
He doesn’t have a varied set of pitches, but all three of them garner plenty of swing and misses, and his slider can be virtually untouchable at times. He gets into trouble when his fastball location isn’t there, and he gets into hitters counts, letting the opposition sit on fastball, but when he’s on, his 4-seam/slider mix is dynamite.
Stroman offers a completely different look. His 4-seam and slider are nearly 3 mph slower (93.29 and 86.43), so he doesn’t offer the same kind of power that Archer does, but his repertoire is far more diverse. He throws six different pitches (4-seam, sinker, cutter, curve, slider, change) and uses 5 of them at least 10% of the time. The pitch being used the least is his 4-seam (5.04%), as he’s become reliant on his effective sinker. His change is largely just a show-me pitch that he throws to LHH at this point, but the rest of his arsenal he can use in any count and any location.
Instead of relying on two dominant offerings to get whiffs like Archer, he is adept at mixing speeds and location in order to keep hitters off balance and generate weak contact.
Archer faced the Jays a total of six times in 2015 (15 for his career), absolutely picking them apart in his first four starts, going a combined 29 innings while giving up 12 hits, and just three ER. However, in September, the Jays got to him for 9 ER through 3.1 IP. Familiarity is absolutely there for the Jays, but this is a pitcher that has proven he can shut down some of the Jays big bats.
Stroman on the other hand has only faced the Rays twice, both times coming in 2014, so a lack of familiarity for many of the Rays hitters should play to Stroman’s advantage.
Next: Game 2: Jays look to attack Smyly