Pittsburgh Pirates: Chris Archer has hernia surgery

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Chris Archer #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after a catch by Pablo Reyes #15 in the third inning during the game against the Kansas City Royals at PNC Park on September 19, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 19: Chris Archer #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after a catch by Pablo Reyes #15 in the third inning during the game against the Kansas City Royals at PNC Park on September 19, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have aspirations to contend during the 2019 season.

One player every Pittsburgh Pirates fan will be keeping an eye on during this Winter is Chris Archer. The right-hander underwent a procedure to repair a bilateral hernia according to the organization. The expected recovery is expected to take approximately six weeks leaving him in line to be ready for Spring Training.

However, expectations for Bucco fans should be tempered. An injury like this, let alone surgery to repair it, can come with numerous setbacks. Archer will have to hit it hard during this Winter/Spring to be prepared for the upcoming season.

Although Archer is among the more recognizable names in baseball, he has failed to live up to his immense potential throughout his MLB career. His earned run average hasn’t been below four since the 2015 season and he didn’t show a lot to be excited about during his time in Pittsburgh during last season.

He started 10 games and finished the 2018 season with a 4.30 earned run average with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Archer surrendered eight home runs across just 52 1/3 innings pitched and finished with an uninspiring 1.357 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). 2018 also marked the first time Archer didn’t surpass the 200 inning threshold since the 2014 season as he finished with just 148 1/3 innings pitched in 27 starts.

More from Call to the Pen

The 2019 season represents somewhat of a make-or-break season for Archer. Long considered one of the top young pitchers in the American League, Archer has yet to earn the title of “ace” for a pitching staff. The 30-year-old still has time to reach his ceiling. However, the clock is ticking and now is the time for Archer to answer the bell.

At his best, Archer is an inning-eating strikeout machine. However, home runs have plagued him throughout his career and his H/9 has risen steadily from 7.4 during the 2015 season to 9.4 last season. His fastball velocity has stayed consistently around the 95-96 MPH range throughout his career, per FanGraphs. However, he used it less last season than at any point during his career and that could explain his most recent struggles.

Next. Looking back at the Pirates 2018 season. dark

Pittsburgh has a long road to travel to be in the conversation for the playoffs next season. However, they have the right mix of talent that they could be a legitimate contender with the right acquisitions. Having Archer healthy is the first step toward that being possible.