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Jake McGee was back to his bad version in 2018

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Unfortunately the Rockies had just paid him for being his good version the previous season.

You’re reading the 2018 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the season had by every player to play for the Rockies in 2018. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the least amount of rWAR and end up with the player with the most.

★ ★ ★

No. 38, Jake McGee (-0.8 rWAR)

The Colorado Rockies have twice paid a significant price for Jake McGee — once in a trade and once with a free agent deal. He has pitched three seasons for them. He has now been good for one of those seasons and kind of a disaster for the other two.

Unfortunately McGee had the worst season of his career in 2018 after signing a three-year, $27 million deal to return to the Rockies last winter. The 31-year-old appeared in 61 games and posted a 6.49 ERA. He had a 73 ERA+ and saw his strikeout numbers dip down slightly to 8.2 K/9.

The biggest difference between 2017 and 2018 for McGee was the long ball. In roughly the same number of appearances and innings, he went from surrendering just four home runs in 2017 to giving up a career-worst 10 this past season. The Rockies simply could not trust McGee as the end of the season approached. Like fellow big-ticket signing Bryan Shaw, McGee did not make the postseason roster.

McGee has always been a unique case in that he is a lefty that does not specialize in getting left-handed hitters out. They actually hit him harder than right-handed batters in 2018, posting a .307/.395/.547 (155 OPS+) against him.

When McGee is good, you can call it versatility that he is equally effective against right-handed and left-handed hitters. It makes him a guy you can put in any spot and even use as a fill-in closer. But when he is equally bad against both sides, or even worse against lefties as is McGee’s case, it makes the problem awfully glaring.

McGee was a steady presence out of the bullpen back in 2017. I don’t imagine many people were upset that the Rockies re-signed him as one of their big moves last off-season. One year later, and we now have two seasons of bad McGee and just one season of good McGee.

Maybe it’s an odd year thing. Maybe it’s just the volatility of relievers. Whatever the case, there will be pressure on McGee to bounce back again in 2019 in the second year of his contract.