© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

09/07/12 7:55 PM ET

McGee turning heads with quality relief work

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jake McGee has been a weapon out of the Rays' bullpen this season.

The 26-year-old left-hander has pitched mostly in the middle innings, but he has opened eyes with the way he has performed.

McGee is equipped with a fastball that's clocked as high as 97 or 98 mph, and he's evolved into a pitcher capable of getting out hitters from either side of the plate.

In McGee's past 16 appearances, he has not been charged with a run. During that period, he has struck out 19 and allowed just four hits.

McGee's slider has developed nicely to complement his fastball and, according to Rays manager Joe Maddon, he has the calm makeup necessary for the job.

"When you're out on the mound and a guy comes in, when you give him the ball, what does he look like?" Maddon said. "What do his eyes look like? Is he breathing well? What's he all about? He is outstanding, because he comes in, you bring him in during the course of an inning, and he's always good."

Rays rank high among all sports franchises

ST. PETERSBURG -- ESPN the Magazine published its 10th annual "Ultimate Standings" on Friday, ranking the 122 Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL franchises.

Clubs were ranked across eight different categories based on fan feedback and the Rays finished No. 1 overall in "Affordability," No. 5 in "Coaching," and No. 8 in "Bang for the Buck."

This is the sixth straight year the Rays have ranked among the top three in "Affordability."

Only the San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Boston Celtics are ranked higher in "Coaching."

Overall, the Rays ranked 16th of the 122 franchises and fourth among MLB teams, the third time in four years they've cracked the Top 20.

Last week, Businessweek named the Rays "The Smartest Spenders in Sports."

Rays relying on their starting pitching depth

ST. PETERSBURG -- Within the last week, the Rays' starting pitching depth has been tested.

Jeff Niemann had to leave Saturday's game after experiencing tightness in his right upper arm and shoulder area. That was followed by Friday's news that ace David Price would miss a start due to soreness in his left shoulder.

"We've talked about [the importance of having pitching depth] since Spring Training," manager Joe Maddon said. "Jeff being hurt right now, we can pop [Chris] Archer in there and feel good about it. We even have Wade Davis in the bullpen, I don't want to do that based on what he's done so far and he's not stretched out. My point is that's another good starting arm out there, too. ... And [Cesar] Ramos, he did a nice job on the latter part, and he is stretched out."

Maddon harped on the importance of not dealing starting pitching, even though some felt the Rays should have used its depth to acquire position players to help the offense.

"You can never have enough [starting pitching]," Maddon said. "We have our ways of doing things. We have our ways of evaluating moments and situations. And [Rays executive vice president of baseball operations] Andrew [Friedman] and I have talked about that a lot. ... It's depth to a point and all of a sudden it can become a weakness if you're not careful. ... It really helped us right now."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.