Chris Archer is on the verge of baseball infamy.
The Tampa Bay Rays right-hander takes an 8-19 record into his Thursday start against the Chicago White Sox. Another defeat would leave Archer as the major league's first 20-game loser since the Detroit Tigers' Mike Maroth went 9-21 in 2003.
Prior to Maroth, no pitcher lost 20 games in a season since the Oakland Athletics' Brian Kingman finished 8-20 in 1980.
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Maroth posted an unimpressive 5.73 ERA in 2003. Archer's 4.02 ERA is more closely aligned with Kingman's 3.83 mark in his 20-loss season, a sign that the Rays righty hasn't been completely dreadful despite setting a franchise record for single-season losses.
"I think I'm impressed most that he stayed healthy; he's made his starts," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He's very close to that 200-inning mark (at 194 2/3). Any time a guy gets 200 innings, that's pretty telling how valuable to the team (he is) and that he's pitching good enough to be out there that much."
Archer has 228 strikeouts, the second-best total in the American League behind the 246 of Detroit Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander.
"I don't know how he could lose 20 games, as good as he is," Archer's former teammate, New York Mets infielder Kelly Johnson, recently told Newsday. "Would I be alarmed if I were his teammate or the organization that he's losing so many games? I wouldn't be. I know how hard he works. I know how much he cares and how much effort he puts in and how much he does for the community.
"The guy's a stud. This is one of those situations he's going to look back and think, 'Man, that one year was crazy. I can't believe it.'"
Archer hopes to avoid posting the 500th 20-loss season in major league history. The first 295 of those came before 1900, but 20-defeat seasons remained fairly common through the 1960s and into the 1970s prior to the advent of the five-man rotation.
In five career games (four starts) against the White Sox, Archer is 2-0 with a 4.13 ERA. He has not faced Chicago this year.
While Archer aims to avoid negative history, his mound opponent Thursday is looking for a positive milestone. White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana needs five strikeouts to top his career high of 178 set in 2014.
Quintana (13-11, 3.20 ERA) is 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA in five career starts against the Rays.
He ranks ninth in the AL in ERA, sixth in innings pitched (202) and 11th in strikeouts. Quintana picked up his career-high 13th victory on Saturday at Cleveland after allowing just one run on six hits in a six-inning outing. The White Sox beat the Indians 8-1.
"I wish we could score for him like this every time he goes out there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Everyone knows his record would be much better if we scored for him."
In his lone start against Tampa Bay this year, Quintana took the loss after yielding three runs (two earned) in six innings during a 3-2 defeat on April 17 at Tropicana Field.
Quintana has a 1-2 record and a 3.33 ERA in five career starts vs. the Rays.