For more than two months, Jake McGee was everything the Giants needed him to be.
The lefty closer didn't allow an earned run in 23 2/3 innings over 24 outings from June 4 through Aug. 6, lowering his ERA from 4.37 to 2.14 during that span.
But McGee has fallen on hard times over his last three appearances, including his outing in the Giants' 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night at Oracle Park.
Manager Gabe Kapler called on the closer to try to get the save against the lowly Rockies, but McGee gave up a two-run homer to Connor Joe and then allowed two straight two-out singles to Brendan Rodgers and Charlie Blackmon.
Kapler didn't want to pull McGee from the game, but with right-handed batter C.J. Cron coming up, he had no choice, turning to Zack Littell to get the last out of the win.
McGee wasn't especially wild, but the Rockies made him work, fouling off nine of his 25 pitches, per Baseball Savant.
"I think it's a little bit of carry on the fastball that's a little bit below his norm," Kapler said after the game when asked about McGee's outing by The Mercury News' Kerry Crowley. "It's nothing we're able to quantify right now. Just doesn't have the same carry through the zone, and I think for that reason, hitters are getting the bat on it, and they are fouling off an additional pitch, which makes him work harder.
"Jake's bread and butter is getting swings and misses on that fastball. Specifically, he almost always has the ability to put a hitter away with that fastball and right now, it's just getting fouled off. Jake's our guy. Obviously very hard to take him out of that game. But we really do have a ton of confidence that we're going to get this worked out."
Per Baseball Savant, McGee threw his four-seam fastball 19 times Friday, inducing 13 swings, but just one swing-and-miss. Those numbers aren't good considering he has a 20 percent whiff rate on his four-seam fastball this season.
McGee's troubles started in Milwaukee over the weekend when he allowed the automatic runner to score on a single by Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain in the bottom of the 11th. It was an unearned run and didn't impact the outcome of the Giants' 9-6 extra-innings win. But it was the beginning of a rocky week.
On Tuesday night, McGee allowed two earned runs in 2/3 of an inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Littell again came in and got the strikeout to pick up McGee.
After Friday's game, McGee now has allowed five runs and four earned runs in his last 2 1/3 innings pitched.
The good news for the Giants is that they have a two-headed closer monster with McGee and Tyler Rogers, so they can turn to the latter if the former continues to struggle.
But Kapler and the Giants know they are going to need McGee to be at his best if they plan to make a deep playoff run. The front office didn't add a top-notch closer like All-Star Craig Kimbrel, instead banking on the McGee, Rogers and the rest of the bullpen to hold up over the final two months of the regular season.
Now it's up to McGee and the Giants' coaching staff to go into the lab and find a solution for what ails him.