Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Reliever Jake McGee shines in Tampa Bay Rays' bullpen

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — When it comes to the Rays bullpen, closer Fernando Rodney has deservedly garnered much of the hype and an All-Star selection.

Veteran Joel Peralta is the workhorse setup man with a calming presence, right-hander Kyle Farnsworth has the pedigree, and J.P. Howell is in the midst of a spectacular bounce-back season.

Meanwhile, manager Joe Maddon said nobody is talking about lefty Jake McGee, who is emerging as a force in his first full big-league season and is a reason why this year's Rays bullpen may be their deepest group yet.

McGee, 26, is more comfortable and confident on the mound, consistently locating his mid-to-high 90s fastball enough to make him a weapon against both righties and lefties. His 2.01 ERA is second to Rodney among Rays relievers.

"It's fun to watch him, to see his demeanor on the mound," said former Rays closer Roberto Hernandez, who occasionally advises the bullpen. "With McGee, a couple years ago, he was hoping to belong. Now, when you see him pitch, he brings an aura like, 'I do belong here, so deal with it.' He's not hoping anymore."

McGee has not been charged with a run in 16 consecutive appearances, striking out 19 and allowing four hits over that 13 1/3-inning span. He was at it again Wednesday night, striking out two of the three Yankees he faced.

What has made McGee more valuable this year is how he has been "devastating" on right-handed hitters, Maddon said. Righties hit .400 off McGee last season, when he made the opening day roster but was sent down in late April due to struggles. But McGee bounced back, racking up four September wins, including in Game 162 against the Yankees, and he has been actually better against righties (.102) than lefties (.270) this year.

"I'm just throwing more strikes and attacking," McGee said. "This year, against righties, I've been able to locate my fastball away to them, and last year I wasn't able to do that and it leaked over the plate. When I'm throwing fastball away to righties now, it's running away from them, as opposed to last year it cut toward the middle of the plate."

It helps that McGee has been able to mix in his slider, which has been developing. His fastball velocity has been consistently up in the mid 90s, while, as Maddon says, his heartbeat is "very slow."

"He's very much in command of the moment, that's part of his success, too," Maddon said. "When you're out on the mound and a guy comes in, when you give him the ball, what does he look like? What do his eyes look like? Is he breathing well? What's he all about? (McGee) is outstanding, because he comes in, you bring him in during the course of an inning, and he's always good."

McGee has inherited 42 baserunners this season, tied for fifth most in the American League. And thanks to his strong strikeout-to-walk ratio (56:10), McGee can get out of jams.

"You get on a good roll on the team and pitching in big games and getting opportunities to get holds and pitching with runners on," McGee said. "The more I do that, the more comfortable I get."

Pitching coach Jim Hickey said as good as the team's 2010 bullpen was, with Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit having dominant seasons, this group might be the deepest. He points to McGee, as well as Wade Davis, who has been impressive in unselfishly moving from the rotation to the bullpen (2.29 ERA). Hickey said Davis and sinkerballer Burke Badenhop could be "premier" relievers in other team's bullpens, but because of the Rays strong starting pitching and bullpen depth, they don't get as many appearances.

But, like McGee, they can get spotted in the right situations, and shine.

Said Hickey of McGee: "It's absolutely the most rewarding part of it is seeing guys come from just pups that you hope can help to guys that you count on to be productive and be winners night in and night out."

Comments
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17
As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

Presuming Alex Cobb declines the Rays’ one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. today, he has pitched his last game for Tampa Bay.Cobb has received preliminary interest from "lots of teams" already, agent Dan Horwits said. The Cubs and Twin...
Published: 11/16/17
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says progress must continue on new stadium to keep Rays

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made clear Thursday that identification of a site for a new Rays stadium is merely the first step for area leaders to show they want to keep the team long-term and that there needs to "consistent forward movement" on the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

Sternberg: Tampa Bay Rays' share of new ballpark could be $150 million

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Wednesday that the team is "genuinely excited" about the proposed Ybor City site for a new stadium and more than "cautiously optimistic" the project can be completed. But ...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Rays journal: No big deals at GM meetings, but possible groundwork laid

By MARC TOPKINLAKE BUENA VISTA — Rays officials left the GM meetings without making any big deals — such as trading Alex Colome or Chris Archer to the Cardinals — but more knowledgeable about the possibilities. "Expectations were to utilize these few...
Published: 11/15/17
Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

Watch: Brandy Halladay’s emotional tribute to her late husband, Roy

For his wife, Brandy, Roy Halladay was so much more than a standout pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies.During a a celebration of life ceremony Tuesday at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Brandy remembered Halladay — who died Nov...
Published: 11/15/17