Leveraging Jake McGee’s Usage | The Process Report

Leveraging Jake McGee’s Usage

This offseason Tampa Bay lost three of their top seven relievers. ┬áTypically that may qualify as a lot of turnover; however, when you consider the overhauls of past winters, the Rays kept a fair amount of continuity in the relief corps. The team re-signed Kyle Farnsworth to a one-year deal and broke the mold to re-sign Joel Peralta to an admittedly team-friendly multi-year deal. Many wondered what this meant for Jake McGee’s 2013 role. The answer is it might not mean much.

Despite the off-season activity, Rays’ Manager Joe Maddon is likely to use a similar chain of command in regards to high-leverage circumstances in 2013. As it stands, the crunch-time situations will likely be split amongst the trio of Fernando Rodney, McGee and Peralta (with Rodney once again racking up the save opportunities). Although the glory tends to go to the one who records the final out, if last season’s usage is any indication, the Rays closer may not necessarily be the guy used in the most important spot of a game.

chart

(click to enlarge)

Looking at Baseball Prospectus’ new bullpen (mis)management tool, which measures the average leverage index when a reliever enters a game over a block of games (in graphic above it is 27 game increments), we can see that Rodney and McGee jockeyed for the top spot for most of the season. In the beginning, Rodney took hold of the high-leverage situations, but McGee saw his leverage steadily increase; culminating with him taking over the top spot for decent chunk of time in the middle of the season. The early-season pecking order was restored temporarily before McGee assumed the top spot again toward the end.

I have previously mentioned that saves cost money. And if Tampa Bay wants to keep McGee’s salary reasonable through arbitration, they will need to keep him away from lofty save totals. As the tool shows, with proper management, the Rays can still effectively use him as a relief ace while limiting his exposure to saves (none in 2012) by employing cost-certain veterans like Rodney, Peralta, or Farnworth – and perhaps Juan Oviedo in 2014 – to record the final three outs.

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