SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The back of the bullpen rollout for the Rockies is set to begin this weekend, with closer Wade Davis and lefty Jake McGee slated to appear in Saturday's game against the Brewers and Bryan Shaw expected to pitch Monday when the Cubs come to Salt River Fields."I'm
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The back of the bullpen rollout for the Rockies is set to begin this weekend, with closer Wade Davis and lefty Jake McGee slated to appear in Saturday's game against the Brewers and Bryan Shaw expected to pitch Monday when the Cubs come to Salt River Fields.
"I'm going to throw [Saturday] for the first time," McGee said. "Everything's been going well. Just kind of easing into it. Not rushing into it."
The trio of relievers were scheduled in advance to start game appearances later in the spring, based on a combination of the Rockies' sense of what it takes for their relievers to get ready over the course of a six-week Spring Training camp and the preferences of the individual pitcher.
"The length of Spring Training gives teams an opportunity, especially on the relief pitching side, to sort of fine tune it individually for what pitchers need," manager Bud Black said. "Having conversations with [Mike] Dunn and [Adam] Ottavino and Davis, with Shaw, McGee, we can tailor a Spring Training schedule for these guys, and that's what we've done."
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A tailored schedule suits McGee fine, allowing him to balance some focused work -- on his curve, for example -- during his side sessions, while easing into the increasingly competitive game atmosphere as the Cactus League season continues.
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"It helps me," McGee said of the relaxed pace and later entrance into game action. "Knowing my schedule is good too. Last year I only threw four Spring Training games [because of his participation in the World Baseball Classic] and the season went really well. So this year I'll throw around six to eight Spring Training games.
"I like to throw on the road the last few games of Spring Training. Kind of get the adrenaline going, be able to pitch somewhere different, too. That way when you go into the season, you aren't shocked by anything."
McGee appeared in 62 games for the Rockies last year, and he pitched in the eighth inning 43 times -- more than any inning. With Davis coming on to close games and Shaw added to the roster to share setup duties with McGee, he can anticipate a similar late-inning emphasis in 2018.
McGee sees the veterans in the Rockies bullpen -- with multiple relievers able to step into multiple roles -- as central to the team's success.
"The depth of our bullpen and the versatility is going to be our biggest key going into this season," McGee said. "Every pitcher -- me and Dunn can go in later in games. [Chris] Rusin can go later in games. He can go longer. Wade, closer. Shaw can come in anytime to face lefties and righties."
The Rockies are prepping themselves for a long season that stretches deep into October, and additions like Shaw -- who led the American League in appearances for a pitcher in three of the last four seasons -- give them the confidence that they've got the tools to avoid a prolonged meltdown or to see fatigue that would be uncharacteristic of these men in the 'pen.
"You learn how to work your way through a long season," Black said of his veteran relievers. "A lot of it is just the talent of the player, and the mindset of the player. That's what good players do. They play and perform."
The ability to perform in October was part of what led McGee to return to the Rockies as a free agent during the offseason along with new arrivals Davis and Shaw.
"Coming in last year, we expected to be in the playoffs," McGee said. "We thought we were going to have a good team. And we made the Wild Card Game. For us to build off that with the core players and the starting staff we have, and then how strong our bullpen's going to be, everyone's very confident that we can do what we did last year and even better."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.