Jake McGee: The Case to Keep His Job as Colorado’s Closer
On Friday night, the San Diego Padres pulled off a 7-5 comeback victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Padres scored four runs in the ninth inning off Colorado closer Jake McGee to earn the victory and keep the Rockies from piecing together a three-game winning streak.
The loss was especially sour for Rockies fans, who had seen the Padres do very little against Colorado starter Jon Gray, who mesmerized San Diego for the third time in as many starts against them. Allowing just one earned run through seven innings, Gray turned the ball over to Carlos Estevez, who struck out the side in the eighth and preserved a 4-3 Rockies lead.
The lead would expand to 5-3 in the eighth on an RBI single by Mark Reynolds, setting the stage for McGee to enter the game in the ninth and potentially earn his 16th save of the season.
However, the Padres had other plans. After getting the first two outs of the inning, things fell apart quickly for McGee and the Rockies. Two singles and a ground-rule double pulled the Padres within 5-4 before Wil Myers smacked a three-run homer to center to give San Diego a stunning 7-5 advantage.
In all, McGee gave up four hits on four hits after retiring the first two batters of the inning. It was his third blown save of the season, and his first since a May 7 outing against San Francisco.
The Rockies are now 26-2 in games where they have led after eight innings … but those two losses are haunting to say the least. Friday night’s will be especially troublesome to swallow as the Padres were down to their last out before the rally began. Also, Myers was down 0-2 before battling back to 3-2 then hitting the three-run jack that would give the Padres the win.
The immediate reaction of many was that McGee should be pulled from his closing duties. But is the knee-jerk reaction the correct reaction?
Let’s face it … when McGee has exploded, it’s been magnificent in a horrific kind of way for the Rockies. He’s allowed 12 earned runs this season … and nine of them have come in two appearances (four on Friday against the Padres and five in an April 24 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers). Between those two games, that’s nine runs in 1.1 innings of work. Other than that, he’s surrendered three runs in 20.1 innings.
McGee had converted eight consecutive saves coming into Friday night’s game and went 9-for-10 in save opportunities in May, stringing together a 1.50 ERA during the month.
Much like the backup quarterback for the Denver Broncos last season (be it Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning) was the best option at QB in the fans’ minds when the starter struggled, a bad game is always going to give rise to those who think Jason Motte should inherit the role, or that Motte should move into the setup man role and Estevez should be the finisher. And don’t forget, Adam Ottavino is working his way back into the fold as well. But he had issues last night for High-A Modesto in his first game back on the mound since Tommy John surgery, pitching 0.2 of an inning and allowing two hits, two runs (both earned) with a walk and one strikeout in a 21-pitch outing.
Next: Why Didn't We Talk More About Chuck Nazty's Streak?
Is it concerning that Jake McGee’s velocity has had issues this season? Absolutely. Is it concerning when your closer has issues as he did on Friday night? You bet. But until it becomes a prolonged problem, a change at closer simply isn’t necessary or warranted.