Just prior to Opening Day, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a late addition to their bullpen in the form of Jake McGee, who had been released by the Colorado Rockies a few days before.
The left-hander was coming off a disappointing 2019 season that saw him post career-lows in FIP (6.00) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.2). However, a lot of those struggles stemmed from pitching at the hitter-friendly Coors Field.
McGee posted a 5.95 ERA at the ballpark as opposed to a solid 2.91 ERA in 25 road appearances. The hope was that a change of scenery would serve him well, and that a few changes could help him recapture his previous form.
McGee earned a spot on the Dodgers Opening Day roster and remained with the team all season. It was evident from the start that he was a different pitcher, as he generated more swings-and-misses and soft contact than the previous year.
McGee threw his fastball 97% of the time, which was up from 80% during the 2019 season. His heater also gained 1.6 mph in velocity, helping him strike out nearly the same amount of batters as last season despite logging 21 fewer innings.
In 24 regular-season appearances, McGee went 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA, 1.67 FIP and 0.84 WHIP over 20.1 innings of work. He struck out 33 batters, walked only three batters and surrendered a career-low two home runs.
McGee was included on all four of the Dodgers’ postseason rosters but did not get into a game until the National League Championship Series. He made three appearances against the Atlanta Braves, allowing one run on three hits in 1.2 innings pitched.
McGee’s final outing came in Game 2 of the World Series against his former Tampa Bay Rays team, when he tossed a scoreless inning with one strikeout.
From July 24-Aug. 15, McGee was virtually untouchable over a span of nine games, stringing together 8.2 consecutive scoreless innings to begin his 2020 campaign.
The 34-year-old allowed just two hits during the stretch, striking out 12 batters in comparison to two walks.
McGee was one of seven Dodgers players that reached free agency the morning after Game 6 of the World Series. Given his success with L.A., a reunion would benefit both sides.
The Dodgers could use more left-handed relief depth, given that their 40-man roster consists of only five such pitchers in Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson, Victor Gonzalez, Adam Kolarek and Julio Urias.
Alexander is a possible non-tender candidate, while Ferguson will miss the entire 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September. Urias may also slot back into the starting rotation depending on other moves this offseason.
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