Jake McGee is retiring and wants to be known as a Ray

Jake McGee has many memories of his time with the Races, culminating in his major league debut in 2010 when he eliminated Derek Jeter to win Game 162 with a wild card in 2011.

He has a place in the Tampa Bay team’s record book, with a seemingly safe team of 297 games. He has several valuable memorabilia, most notably a framed T-shirt and photographs on the wall of his home in Reno, Nevada.

And now, having decided to retire at the age of 36 after 13 seasons in the big leagues, McGee wants to do it like Ray.

Although the left-handed reliever has played for five other teams, winning the World Series with the Dodgers and spending 1.5 seasons in the Giants’ hometown (including 31 saves in 2021), the Races remain his true love as they come back. before he was selected in the fifth round of the 2004 draft and worked in the minor leagues.

“They were the first team that gave me that opportunity,” McGee said. “I have been with the organization for 11 years. I know it’s been (only) six years in the big leagues, but I’ve learned so much – analytically wise, like how to serve in the zone with my fastball.

“All the teams were very good when I was there. Every year we fought for the playoffs. And then we lived in Tampa, which was our (permanent) home for a while. So just be with the organization all the time.”

While there will be nothing formal like signing a one-night contract, McGee and Race will acknowledge their long-term relationship during the season when he returns to Tropicana Field to be honored before a (yet to be decided) game and throw out the first pitch.

McGee said the decision to retire now was based on a combination of factors such as ongoing knee problems and the absence of his wife Morgan and their now 8-year-old daughter Rowan, as he was when he retired from the Giants. Brewers at the Nationals last season.

“I feel like now is the right time,” McGee said. “I would rather be at home with my family. I played for 13 years. I won the World Series in the 20th. It’s time to stop. I don’t want to grind it up, keep jumping around and stuff like that.”

McGee’s career after moving from a minor league starter to a major league pitcher was solid, although injury problems were an ongoing problem. He finished with a 32–28 record and a 3.71 ERA over 650 games (11th among active pitchers at the end of 2022); 79 saves (at 113 chances); and 613 strikeouts in 572-1/3 innings. He performed in five postseasons. And earned about 50 million dollars.

Most impressively, he did it all while throwing almost one pitch, a four-seam fastball.

Nearly 90 percent of McGee’s 9,585 shots in regular season games were fastballs. data. This included some remarkable displays of consistency—or stubbornness— such as series with the Rays during his career-best 2014 season, according to of 206, 125, 82 and 60 fastballs in a row.

Coaches and others suggested frequently, especially during McGee’s four seasons in Colorado after the Race traded him in 2016 to do more sliders and curves, and he tried from time to time.

But McGee threw the fastball so well, at an average of 95 mph and usually on target in the zone, that it didn’t matter that the hitters knew it was coming.

When he signed with the Dodgers in July 2020 — having been released by the Rockies ahead of the final season of a three-year, $27 million contract — he said he was told to throw 100 fastballs in a row.

When McGee did line up a lucky break ball, it was a big deal.

Even the headline of the news – “Ray’s win comes with a hook,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. — when he made Manny Machado wave helplessly around the corner to end the game on June 29, 2014 in Baltimore and secure a 5-4 victory.

“He swung and missed, his helmet went up and he tilted his cap towards me, like, ‘You got me,’” McGee said, remembering the moment clearly.

But what McGee did worked.

“Jake was an incredible opponent and teammate,” said Andrew Friedman, head of baseball operations with the Race until 2014 and then with the Dodgers. “You have to be a great contender to have the sustained success he has with just one inning. But seriously, he had a great career and it was fun to watch him dominate the hill as he wasn’t touched by any important game situations.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash said: “He was an amazing teammate. And the same carefree pitcher that we had. So many pitchers, they’re like adrenaline junkies. And Jake, for some reason, was as calm as possible. And when he was in his prime, he probably was second to none in the American League.”

McGee went up against the Rays in the 2020 World Series in Arlington, Texas, but it wasn’t a big reunion due to COVID-19 restrictions. He has returned to the Trope — “one of my favorite pitches” — only once since he was traded to the Colorado in April 2019. He enjoyed the memories and the excitement until a knee problem forced him out of the game.

He looks forward to returning this season and playing another pitch – albeit a ceremonial one – as Ray.

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