It says quite a bit about the Rays' torrid July that Chris Archer can look around Tampa Bay's clubhouse to find his toughest competition for the American League Pitcher and Rookie of the Month Awards. But it says even more about Archer's historic month that he received both honors on Monday.
Archer was chosen ahead of rotation-mates David Price (5-1, 1.68 ERA) and Matt Moore (4-0, 2.08) as the AL Pitcher of the Month, and he edged past outfielder Wil Myers (.352, four homers, 18 RBIs) for the league's Rookie of the Month. The Rays went 21-5 in July, jumping into a tight race with the Red Sox atop the AL East.
Archer is just the sixth player to be named Player/Pitcher and Rookie of the Month Award since the latter was introduced in 2001. The previous five were Tampa Bay teammate Jeremy Hellickson (May 2011), Dontrelle Willis (June 2003), Ryan Braun (July 2007), Mike Trout (May 2011) and Yasiel Puig (July 2013).
The 24-year-old right-hander finished the month a perfect 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA, two shutouts, seven walks and 22 strikeouts in 37 innings. Archer ranked first among Major League rookies in wins, shutouts, innings pitched, ERA and opponents' batting average (.140).
Archer's 0.73 ERA was the second-best ERA overall among AL pitchers, behind only Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (0.69), and marked the lowest ERA ever by a rookie in July. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three other rookies since 1920 have recorded a montly ERA lower than Archer's 0.73 mark: Junior Thompson of the Reds (0.72 in September 1939), Dave Ferriss of the Red Sox (0.45 in May 1945) and Fernando Valenzuela of the Dodgers (0.20 in April 1981).
Archer finished off the first complete game of his career on July 14 against the Astros, scattering five hits and striking out eight in a 5-0 shutout at Tropicana Field. He was even better at Yankee Stadium on July 27, tossing a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Yankees. Archer struck out six, walked none and needed only 97 pitches as he became the first Rays pitcher to shut out the Yankees.
On top of that, Archer became the first rookie to shut out the Yankees in the Bronx since Baltimore's Arthur Rhodes did so in 1992. He was also the first rookie, and the eighth pitcher overall since 1916, to accomplish that feat in New York while allowing two hits or less and no walks.