The Pittsburgh Pirates will have to start the 2020 season without one of their best starting pitchers due to a career-altering injury.
Righty Chris Archer will not play in 2020 after undergoing surgery to relieve the symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. He is expected to make a full recovery by 2021, however.
Thoracic outlet syndrome, the same injury that afflicted Chris Carpenter and Matt Harvey during the end of their primes, occurs when nerves, arteries, and veins in the lower arm and armpit start to contract, causing pain and decreased circulation.
Archer was a two-time All-Star in his seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, making his name with an explosive fastball and nearly unhittable slider. He was traded to Pittsburgh on his downslope in a lopsided deal that gave the Rays a nearly elite hitter in Austin Meadows, an upper-tier No. 3 starter in 6-8 Tyler Glasnow, and a promising prospect in former first-round pick Shane Baz.
Archer has posted a 4.92 ERA in 33 starts with the Pirates, including a 5.10 ERA during the 2019 season. For a guy who thrives on velocity and movement, this injury could be extremely serious for Archer.
The list of pitchers that returned to full strength after TOS is not a very long one. And if he does return, odds are he will not do so for Pittsburgh, with a hefty option for 2021 in an economic climate that will be tailored to deflate people in his exact circumstance.
While this is certainly a concerning development, we wish Archer nothing but the best as he prepares to come back stronger than ever in 2021.