Yesterday, we left Jake McGee off our opening day roster projection. And that left some people wondering why.
Today (via TampaBay.com), we get a look at what Joe Maddon is thinking and why McGee could start the year in the minors despite already being one of the Rays’ best bullpen options. It’s all about the slider…
Manager Joe Maddon said LHP Jake McGee is making good progress with one of his main objectives in camp: improving his slider…With McGee vying for one of the bullpen spots, developing that pitch is important, giving him another weapon to go with an overpowering fastball. McGee said he can now throw his slider just like his fastball, making it more difficult for hitters to pick up, and has confidence using it behind in the count.
“All of a sudden it’s got better break, better depth, better form,” Maddon said. “That could make him very good. … It can work against right-handers, also. If Jake continues to develop that slider, that makes him very, very interesting.”
“Could” is an interesting choice of words for Maddon. At this point, Maddon is saying McGee still has work to do before he will be an effective big league reliever.
There is still time left in camp for McGee to fine-tune his slider. And if that happens, he will be on the opening day roster. But Maddon’s comments, along with how he has used McGee so far in spring training (only 1 inning against big league hitters) suggests McGee is still a work-in-progress.
The Rays have always been adamant that their top prospects will get as much time as they need in the minors, even if they are already better than other options on the big league roster.
That is why Desmond Jennings will start the year in triple-A. And that is why McGee may join him.