“We have some very dynamic arms in this room,” the two-time AL All-Star said after reporting to spring training, where a bevy of young starters and prospects are competing for roles on a staff that will have a different look after losing Alex Cobb to free agency.
“I say this every year, because we always have a special organization when it comes to arms, but I’m willing to put it up against everybody in the league,” Archer added. “And in order for us to back it up, we have to produce. I think everybody in here is capable of doing that.”
That could change if Odorizzi, subject of trade speculation this winter, winds up being dealt to trim payroll.
Adding to the intrigue is the presence of promising prospects Brent Honeywell, Yonny Chirinos, Jose DeLeon and Ryan Yarbrough — long shots to make the Opening Day roster who nevertheless may get an opportunity to contribute this season.
Archer, 10-12 with a 4.07 ERA a year ago when he worked at least 200 innings for the third consecutive season, is excited about the possibilities.
“I know there are a lot of pitching staffs out there excited about what they have, but as far as our depth — one through seven, eight, nine, even 10 guys — we’re going to have three or four guys in Triple-A who could be starting in the big leagues somewhere for somebody,” Archer said.
“I’ll put it up against anybody’s,” the right-hander added. “And at the end of the season, we can look at the numbers and see how we all fared.”
With just five players 30 years or older — catcher Wilson Ramos, outfielder Denard Span and relievers Sergio Romo, Chaz Roe and Dan Jennings — on the 40-man roster, Tampa Bay has one of the youngest clubs in baseball.
The Rays enter 2018 with a streak of 560 consecutive games started by pitchers under 30, the longest such stretch in the majors.
Archer, an All-Star in 2015 and 2017, is eager to lead the way again.
“In order for us to be successful, we have to pitch at our top capabilities,” he reiterated.
“We don’t have to be anything more than what we are. But we have to produce, just like on the position-player side — offense, defense, everybody has to be clicking,” Archer added. “We talk about that every year, but pitching is our strong suit, and we need to take full advantage of it.”
Toronto Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio goes on 10-day IL with nagging back issue
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Biggio has been bothered by the back issue all season, but said he is hopeful the stint won’t be longer than the minimum.
Biggio, 26, went 0-for-3 with a walk in Monday night’s 5-2 loss in 10 innings. He is batting .215 with seven homers and 26 RBIs this season.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Corey Dickerson was activated from the IL and started in Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians. Dickerson was sixth in the lineup as the designated hitter.
Boston Red Sox closer Matt Barnes placed on COVID-19 injured list
Barnes is 5-2 with 23 saves and a 2.30 ERA, but hadn’t pitched since a save against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 28. The right-hander was put into quarantine after showing symptoms at the team’s hotel in Detroit and is awaiting test results.
Marwin Gonzalez returned to the active roster after being out since July 13 with a hamstring strain. He is hitting .205 while starting at all four infield positions, as well as left and right field.
Milwaukee Brewers’ John Axford (elbow) heads to IL on heels of first MLB appearance since 2018
The team recalled left-hander Angel Perdomo from Triple-A Nashville in a corresponding move, and also placed infielder Keston Hiura on the COVID-19 injured list.
The Brewers acquired the 38-year-old Axford — who started his major league career in Milwaukee and had his greatest success there — from the Toronto Blue Jays for $1 on Monday. The veteran right-hander pitched later that day against the Pittsburgh Pirates but retired just one of the five batters he faced before leaving with an elbow issue.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Monday that Axford would undergo an MRI.
Axford began this season as a studio analyst on the Blue Jays’ television broadcast crew.
After pitching for Canada in an Olympic qualifier, Axford signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays on June 24. Axford said his velocity got as high as 98 mph during that Olympic qualifier.
He went 1-0 with an 0.84 ERA in nine relief appearances for the Blue Jays’ Triple-A Buffalo affiliate. Axford struck out 14 batters and allowed three walks and two hits in 10 2/3 innings. Opposing batters were hitting just .061 against him.
Axford collected 106 saves during his previous five-year stint in Milwaukee and ranks second to Dan Plesac (133) on the franchise’s career saves list.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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