Colorado Rockies: Reliever McGee says ‘pen depth is key
By Luke Mullins
It’s that time of year again. The weather’s getting warmer and there’s Colorado Rockies baseball on the radio. Spring training is underway and while we catch our first glimpse of the 2018 Rockies, we are also getting to hear from the players, in many cases, for the first time this year.
While the free agent market may have moved at an incredibly slow pace, the Colorado Rockies wasted no time in shoring up their biggest need … the bullpen.
They spent record-breaking amounts of money adding veteran closer Wade Davis, established set-up man Bryan Shaw, and retaining hard-throwing lefty Jake McGee.
As the regular season draws nearer, they’re hoping it pays off.
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Speaking to reporters at the spring training facility at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz., McGee said he thinks the improved bullpen is going to be an important piece of the Rockies’ success in 2018.
"“I think our depth in our bullpen is gonna be our biggest key,” McGee said."
McGee cited the versatility of many of the pitchers in the bullpen, including himself, Davis, and Shaw as well as lefty Mike Dunn and the appropriately-dubbed “Swiss Army Knife,” Chris Rusin.
Despite the talent and money packed into the bullpen, McGee said he doesn’t expect manager Bud Black to change the way he uses his bullpen (for example, pulling starters earlier in games).
That mentality shows the faith the Rockies have placed in their young starting staff, which will be counted on again this year to work in tandem with the bullpen to shut down opponents’ lineups.
"“I think Bud’s gonna try to get as many outs as possible,” McGee said. “Even if, ya know, we’re gonna have to go one-plus more [innings] here and there, that’s fine. If the starter goes six and a third instead of six innings, like, that’ll save the outs for the bullpen in the long run.”"
McGee said he has been working on his curveball and plans to utilize it more this season. Don’t start thinking that means he’s done touching the upper-90s, however.
"“I’m always gonna stick with my fastball,” McGee said."
Last season, McGee pitched for the United States in the World Baseball Classic during spring training, providing a very different preseason experience than the typical spring training.
With no WBC to worry about this year, McGee has been able to follow a more standard schedule in his preparation. He said the later start this year helps him better prepare for the season.
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The Rockies hope this preparation will produce in-game results during the regular season.