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Archer and Stroman provide rare matchup of African-American starting pitchers

Archer and Stroman provide rare matchup of African-American starting pitchers

Saturday’s Pirates game against the New York Mets will feature what has become a rarity in baseball. Two African-American starting pitchers will face each other as Chris Archer (3-8, 5.58 ERA) toes the rubber for the Pirates against Marcus Stroman (6-11, 2.96) for the Mets. According to the Society of Baseball Research, over the past 14 seasons, African-Americans make up between 2 and 3 percent of pitchers in the big leagues. There were only 68 African-American players among the 882 players on opening-day rosters, injured lists, and restricted lists, according to research on Baseball-Reference. Three teams didn’t have a single African-American. The Pirates are an outlier in that they have two black pitchers in Keone Kela and Archer. As African-Americans have often done in situations where there aren’t many people in their role, Archer and Stroman have forged a bond. “Archer is my guy,” Stroman said during All-Star weekend when he was the only African-American hurler. “He’s been good to me and I’ve learned a lot from him. We talk to each other often about life and baseball.” Archer and Stroman faced each other a few times during their time with Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively. Saturday’s matchup will add a new wrinkle. They’ll get to hit against each other since they’re now in the National League without a designated hitter. “I have a little bit of an advantage since he hasn’t swung a bat much this year,” Archer said of Stroman, who will be making his first start for the Mets. “We talked about it, and he said he didn’t feel confident, but I won’t take it for granted because he’s an athlete.” Archer and Stroman text often and both regularly watch the other pitch. “I love how he plays baseball. I’ve watched about 50 to 100 of his games over the last five years,” Archer said. “There will be a few smiles and laughs. But I’m excited to compete against him. He’s been a great friend on and off the field.” While Archer and Stroman are pitching against each other at PNC Park, the next generation of young black pitchers will be at Vero Beach, Fla., participating in the Hank Aaron Invitational at the Los Angeles Dodgers former spring training facility. Nearly 250 players (ages 13-18) from across the United States will receive training from former major league players and coaches. “I was blessed to get to watch black pitchers growing up and I hope to leave a similar legacy,” Stroman said. “It’s essential that we do everything we can to inspire the next generation. Chris was one of the guys who showed me love when I would ask for advice. Our friendship is valuable to me.”

Archer and Stroman provide rare matchup of African-American starting pitchers

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