ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Is Sunday one of Chris Archer's last starts with the Tampa Bay Rays?
The 29-year-old has been a Tampa Bay starter for the past seven years, but he's one of several key veterans the Rays could trade before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.
"If I'm going to be here," Archer told the Tampa Bay Times, "I want the process of not going to the playoffs to be expedited. ... I've seen the transition. I'm not saying I'm not happy, but I know that we are still transitioning. And the faster we can speed that up and get back to the 2008 through '13, '14 days, the better."
Archer (3-4, 4.29 ERA) could help a team competing for a postseason berth, though his efficiency has been an issue of late. He has lasted five innings or less in each of his last three starts after lasting at least six innings in all of the previous six outings. He has allowed only six earned runs in those last three starts, but lasting a combined 12 2/3 innings puts more pressure on an overworked bullpen.
Archer has had good success against the Marlins in the past, so there's a chance he could help his trade value with a showcase start. He has faced Miami twice in his career and carries a 0.64 ERA, allowing just one earned run in a combined 14 innings.
It has been a while, but in 2015 he pitched seven innings and gave up one hit in a scoreless start; the year before, he pitched seven innings and allowed one run in a hard-luck loss.
The Marlins (43-57), who have won four of five games this season against their in-state rivals, can try to close out a three-game sweep coming out of the All-Star break. They'll start 25-year-old rookie right-hander Trevor Richards (3-5, 4.74), after rookie Pablo Lopez was the starter in Saturday's win.
Richards lasted six innings in his last outing, giving up four hits and no runs in a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He faced the Rays earlier this month, giving up nine hits and four runs in five innings of a 9-6 loss on July 3.
Each loss for the Rays makes it more likely that they'll be sellers in the next 10 days. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is likely to be dealt, and potentially other proven veterans like Archer.
The Marlins have already dealt away much of their established talent, though the right offer could pry away catcher J.T. Realmuto in a market where catchers are increasingly hard to find.
The Rays, who have flirted with .500 for most of the 2018 season, stay home with three more games at Tropicana Field against the New York Yankees. The Marlins return home for their next six, with two games against the Atlanta Braves and four against the Washington Nationals, trying to build off the momentum they've created out of the All-Star break.