Blue Jays: Jake McGee is the power arm the bullpen needs

DENVER, CO - JULY 5: Relief pitcher Jake McGee
DENVER, CO - JULY 5: Relief pitcher Jake McGee /

The Toronto Blue Jays have numerous young arms that could step in and provide quality innings but in order to take the bullpen to the next level, a higher end reliever would be a welcome addition. That is where flame throwing left-hander Jake McGee would come in to play for the bullpen.

Jake McGee has spent the past two seasons in the Colorado Rockies bullpen after 10 seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. McGee was in the organization when the Rays were still called the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

He originally began his career as a starter, but was made a reliever after his Major League debut in 2010. That is when McGee’s career took off.

Like most bullpen arms, McGee is extremely volatile. His seasons from 2011 to 2015 with the Rays went as follows:

  • 2011: 4.50 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 8.68 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, -0.2 fWAR
  • 2012: 1.95 ERA, 1.81 FIP, 11.87 K/9, 1.79 BB/9, 2.0 fWAR
  • 2013: 4.02 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 10.77 K/9, 3.16 BB/9, 0.6 fWAR
  • 2014: 1.89 ERA, 1.73 FIP, 11.36 K/9, 2.02 BB/9, 2.6 fWAR
  • 2015: 2.41 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 11.57 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, 1.1 fWAR

McGee had some very up and down seasons, but could always bring some heat from the left side of the bullpen, and he strung together two good seasons in a row in 2014 and 2015. 2015 was shortened due to injury, but it was still a good season when he was healthy. Jake McGee was then traded to the Colorado Rockies in the much talked about Corey Dickerson trade to be Colorado’s closer. It did not go well.

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McGee’s 2016 season was horrendous. A 4.73 ERA with a 5.29 FIP is how things ended up for him. That goes hand-in-hand with a severe dip in strikeouts and hike in walks and home runs. However, that could be chalked up due to a dip in velocity as well. His average fastball velocity went from 95.5 MPH to 94.1. You could also chalk up his bad 2016 to Coors Field. At home, McGee’s ERA was a bloated 6.38 compared to 2.91 on the road.

2017 saw Jake McGee get right back to his normal self, which is following up a subpar season with a good one. He was worth 1.5 wins, got the strikeouts working again (9.10 K/9) and got the home run ball under control. No surprise that his bounce back came with an uptick in his average fastball velocity getting back to 95.3 MPH. He was also much better at home and even more dominant on the road.

The 2017 Blue Jays bullpen was one of the few brights spots on a down year. However, as I’ve written before, they shouldn’t go into the 2018 season needing to rely so heavily on the trio of Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes, and Dominic Leone. They also shouldn’t rely upon them being as dominant as they were. Combine that with a bit of an off year from Roberto Osuna, and you have a need to add a good arm to the bullpen.

The Blue Jays bullpen does need another left hander on top of Aaron Loup for the 2018 bullpen, and McGee fills that role. The pen also hasn’t had a true fireballer for quite a few years now. Osuna can ramp it up there, but they need a guy who can bring gas before Osuna comes into the ball game, and McGee checks that box too. He used to average 97.0+ MPH on his fastball, and was at 95.3 MPH in 2017. Out of the five main bullpen arms in 2017 (Osuna, Leone, Tepera, Loup, and Barnes), McGee would tie Ryan Tepera for the highest average fastball velocity.

Next: Talkin' Tulowitzki in 2018 and beyond

The hard throwing left hander would be a great addition to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018. They need a left hander and his late-inning velocity and experience would be a big benefit. If the Blue Jays want to seriously contend again in 2018, they’ll need to add to the bullpen. There are some options out there, but Jake McGee is awfully appealing. Give me the Jake McGee fastball!