Archer: Rays should be 'well-rounded'

Right-hander believes club has potential to reach next level

Archer: Rays should be 'well-rounded'

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer doesn't like looking in the rearview mirror. A proactive approach better suits the Rays' right-hander, so his eyes are constantly looking forward.

But Archer did manage to have a sense of humor about the 2016 season.

"You either win or you learn," Archer said. "And I learned 19 times last year."

While he doesn't like to look back at 2016, when he went 9-19 with a 4.02 ERA, Archer did offer his thoughts about what happened.

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"Looking back at last season, I'm reminded that the number one thing is to just trust myself and not try to do too much," he said.

Archer 'fessed up to being guilty of doing just that -- too much -- in 2016.

"Yeah, because there were expectations," Archer said. "Once you have a good season, if I don't duplicate that or make it better, than it's a failure. But that's not the case. There are so many factors that are out of your control. The one factor that is always in your control is where your mind is at.

"I mean, even at our level, sometimes we try to do too much. Even if you are one of the top whatever in the game. At times, I'm sure Miguel Cabrera's swing -- he tries to over-swing. But the guys who trust themselves and limit trying to do too much, they get the most out of their ability. And I think at times last year, especially early, that's where the inconsistencies came, because I was trying way too hard to duplicate and be more than I need to be."

Archer summed up his situation by noting that it's all about "trusting who you are."

"Trust your ability," Archer said. "That's the only thing I had to remind myself of, even at the All-Star break last year, not at the end of the season. Because post All-Star break, I was more typical Chris Archer."

Archer's numbers back him. In the first half of 2016, Archer went 4-12 with a 4.66 ERA. After the All-Star break, he went 5-7 with a 3.25 ERA.

The offseason brought countless rumors about the Rays trading Archer elsewhere. Now he can smile about such rumors.

"That was just straight speculation," Archer said. "Because, if a team says that anyone's available, then obviously, they're going to inquire about the higher-end players. I think that some of the stuff got exaggerated a little bit. I don't think our team was as willing as some of the media made it seem.

"We needed clickbait this offseason. But teams are going to be interested. It's flattering, honestly. Like all these teams are like, 'We want him. If they don't, we do.' But I think at the end of the day, the Rays didn't really want to move me, and I'm happy that they didn't."

With 2016 behind him, Archer looks forward, noting that he's "super excited" for the season.

"It's exciting to see people have been really dedicated to their offseason strength program," Archer said. "And I love baseball, so I'm excited to go out there and throw some baseballs again."

Archer said he's hoping for a complete turnaround for the Rays this season, after the team won just 68 games in 2016.

"I think just being healthy is going to be our key," Archer said. "… Being healthy and our starting pitching doing its normal thing. Nothing more, nothing less."

Archer also pointed out that the whole team needs to improve everywhere if they want to reach the postseason.

"People are going to have to step up in the bullpen," Archer said. "We're going to have to score more runs than we did last year. Because when we did pitch well, we had to struggle to win games.

"So I'm taking full responsibility for what I can do, and everybody else on the staff is taking responsibility for what they can do. But I think it's time for us to shift away from relying solely on starting pitching."

Archer pointed out that championship teams were multi-talented.

"You look at teams that win championships, and they're well-rounded," Archer said. "They can do everything. They can move the ball on offense. They drive in runs. Their bullpen is unreal. Every bullpen is unreal. And their starting pitching pitches really well, too."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.