Jake McGee Attempts To Mix In Breaking Balls
In his first three full seasons in the major leagues Jake McGee has increased his use of his fastball each seasons. According to data from Fangraphs.com (LINK) in 2011 he threw 82.8% fastballs, 2012 a total of 87.3%, and 2013 that number rose to 92.4%. In each of his first two seasons he mixed in a slider and changeup but in 2013 he used just his fastball and a cut-fastball.
When camp opened he told Marc Topkins of the Tampa Bay Times (LINK) that he would be attempting to add a curveball and changeup back into his repertoire in order to give hitters something to think about. “I’ve been able to throw it for strikes decently,” he said. “It’s something where it’s going to look like it’s going to be a strike and then be in the dirt.”
Today he took to the mound in Port Charlotte and had an opportunity to test his curveball and seemed happy afterward. “It’s going really well. It’s doing a little better than I thought at first. I started throwing the curveball and it’s been doing really well, both the first time and today. … I’ve faced maybe two or three right handers total in both BPs, and they have said it’s good every time, throwing it for strikes, and in and out of the zone. So it’s real encouraging to get it into games.”
Working on pitches during spring training is always a balancing act. He’ll still have to dedicate the proper amount of time to get his bread and butter fastball ready for opening day but he doesn’t seem worried, “It takes a few games, but I’d say by the middle of spring and towards the end of spring I’ll probably get 10, 11 outings. By the end of that I’ll have a good judge how I should use it and how it’s working well and how it performs against hitters.”
Being less predictable will only serve to help him become even a more dominant force in the back of the Rays bullpen.