After being regarded as one of the most dominant relievers in the game over the past two years, Jake McGee took a step back in 2016. The left-hander's season started off auspiciously enough, as he collected 15 saves as the Rockies' closer prior to getting injured in early June. When he returned, the Rockies decided not to give the closer role back to McGee and instead ease him back into action as a setup man. The results were disastrous, as he finished the season with a 4.73 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, both career worsts. Additionally, the 30-year-old's strikeout rate fell below one per inning for the first time since 2011. Although the season was a wash for all intents and purposes, he did finish the season relatively strongly, sporting a 3.45 ERA and a 9.19 K/9 in 15.2 innings over the last two months of the season. If Adam Ottavino falters as the closer, continuing that decent finish could help McGee make a case to regain the role in 2017. He'll have to get back to his old dominant ways if he wants to have a sniff of fantasy relevance, though.
McGee did not allow a run in two-thirds of an inning in Team USA's victory over Team Canada on Sunday. The left-hander did give up a hit and issued a free pass, but he also fanned another batter en route to helping the Americans progress to the second round of the World Baseball Classic. McGee struggled a bit with command last season and lost some of his strikeout upside, but he'll have a few more opportunities to right the ship on the global stage as the US faces Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic in San Diego over the next week.
McGee will play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports. The left-hander struggled a bit last season in his new hitter-friendly home, posting a career-high 4.73 ERA and 1.8 HR/9 in 45.2 innings out of the Rockies bullpen. That aside, he'll get a head start on the season by suiting up for the Americans in the WBC, joining a relief corps that boasts solid arms like Andrew Miller, Sam Dyson, and David Robertson. Once the US finishes their run in the tournament, McGee will return to Denver and hope to keep the ball in the park better with the hopes of being the primary setup man at manager Bud Black's disposal.
McGee agreed to a one-year, $5.9 million contract with the Rockies on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. A knee strain put McGee on the shelf in June and cost him his job as the Rockies' closer, and he struggled in a setup role initially upon his return. However, McGee pitched reasonably well over the final two months -- well enough to convince the Rockies he'd be worth nearly $6 million next season. The lefty figures to continue helping set up Adam Ottavino to begin 2017.
McGee holds a 2.38 ERA and 1.41 WHIP to go with 14 strikeouts in his past 11.1 innings pitched. Considering the high bar that was set for McGee prior to the season, the left-hander has been fairly disappointing in his first year in Colorado. That being said, he's gotten back to his dominant ways since the beginning of August. The 30-year-old's strikeouts are back up, his command improved (2.4 BB/9 in past 11.1 innings pitched), and he's only allowed one home run in that span. His season numbers still aren't what the Rockies or fantasy owners would like to see (especially his WHIP), but he could work his way into the conversation to be next year's closer if he continues to finish out the season strongly.
McGee has struggled a fair amount since transitioning into his role as the Rockies' setup man, posting a 7.00 ERA and 7.0 K/9 in 14 appearances. McGee began the season as Colorado's closer, but he was usurped from that role after he went on the disabled list in June with a knee injury. The left-hander has done nothing to change manager Walt Weiss' mind on the matter, as this rough stretch has raised his season ERA to 5.58 while lowering his K/9 to 6.5, both easily career-worst marks. Thankfully, the Rockies are playing well as of late, meaning that there have been a good number of hold opportunities recently, but as long as current closer Carlos Estevez continues to hold his own in the ninth, McGee will likely have to rely on amassing holds to garner any fantasy value going forward.