The SF Giants boast one of the best bullpens in baseball with a 2.22 ERA, but one key reliever from the 2021 campaign has struggled right out of the gates. The calendar has turned to May, so small samples are becoming trends that are open to interpretation.
Is it time to be concerned about lefty reliever Jake McGee?
It is still very early in the season, especially when it comes to a reliever like Jake McGee. The 13-year veteran has proven to be an effective reliever and the Giants will be patient with his performance.
That said, the early returns have not been promising as the left-handed hurler has registered a 5.87 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and one strikeout against four walks in 7.2 frames. Usage tends to be an indicator of Giants manager Gabe Kapler's confidence in a reliever and McGee has eight made appearances in 2022, which ties him for fourth in the Giants bullpen.
Tyler Rogers (10), Camilo Doval (9), and Dominic Leone (9) have all made more appearances than McGee. Plus, it is difficult to ignore that the 35-year-old reliever has rarely been used in leverage situations including a blowup on Sunday when he allowed three runs on two hits and two walks while entering a game when the Giants were done by three runs.
By the time McGee completed the inning, San Francisco's deficit grew to six runs immediately after the offense scratched five runs across the plate in the previous inning.
The veteran southpaw's repertoire features a mid-90's fastball with an occasional slider. The fastball gets quality vertical and horizontal movement, so it has proven to be a difficult pitch to hit and one that McGee relies on.
However, his average fastball velocity currently sits at 93.6 MPH, down from 94.9 MPH in 2021. This could be the reason why his strikeout numbers have plummeted to go along with subpar command.
McGee has averaged over one strikeout per inning (9.8 K/9) throughout his career, so he has been able to get plenty of swinging strikes despite relying heavily on one pitch. This is an example of a small sample becoming a concerning trend to monitor.
Especially in the case of relievers, one or two bad outings can really skew the numbers. McGee had a couple of brief rough patches in 2021 and could be in the midst of another to start the season. There is still plenty of time for McGee to improve his numbers but it feels like he is much lower on the bullpen totem pole at the moment. He will need to work his way back up.