McGee and Davis were friends. Both were top young pitching prospects, both threw hard and both projected similarly.
"I'd get these guys confused," Maddon laughed. "There was all the talk about these two guys, and it was almost in the same breath, like their names were hyphenated somehow. 'Jake McGee-hyphen-Wade Davis.'"
So maybe it makes sense that McGee and Davis, now on the Kansas City Royals, are having almost identical 2014 seasons out of their respective bullpens. Both are dominant middle relievers with a shot at the All-Star Game, and the resemblance is uncanny. Just look at their numbers.
McGee: 36 G, 3-0, 33 IP, 1.36 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 5 ER, 18 H, 9 BB, 38 SO, .161 AVG.
Davis: 31 G, 5-2, 33.2 IP, 1.34 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 5 ER, 15 H, 15 BB, 54 SO, .129 AVG.
McGee has walked fewer batters, and Davis has struck out more batters, but other than that, they could almost be the same pitcher. And whatever the minor discrepancies between their stats, both are certainly putting up All-Star-caliber numbers.
"It would be kind of interesting if they both made the All-Star team," Maddon said when he learned of their similar years.
But to actually get into the game, McGee and Davis face an uphill battle. Not many non-closing relief pitchers make All-Star teams.
In fact, in the past 10 years (2004-2013), of the 290 pitchers to be on MLB All-Star rosters, only 15 have been non-closing relievers. That's 5.2 percent. The last 13 were first-time All-Stars when they were chosen, mostly set-up men having exceptional seasons -- like McGee and Davis are now.
There is a slightly positive trend for candidates like McGee and Davis, however. Eleven of those 15 non-closing relievers to make All-Star teams did it during the past five seasons (2009-2013) -- 11 out of 160 pitchers, or 6.9 percent.
That's compared to just four of the 130 pitchers over the previous five seasons (2004-2008) -- just 3.1 percent of those All-Star pitchers were non-closing relievers.
The full list of non-closing relievers to make an All-Star team between 2004 and 2013, and their teams, is as follows:
- 2013 -- Jesse Crain (CHW), Brett Cecil (TOR), Steve Delabar (TOR)
- 2012 -- None
- 2011 -- Aaron Crow (KC), David Robertson (NYY), Jonny Venters (ATL), Tyler Clippard (WAS)
- 2010 -- Matt Thornton (CWS), Arthur Rhodes (CIN), Hung-Chih Kuo (LAD), Evan Meek (PIT)
- 2009 -- None
- 2008 -- Carlos Marmol (CHC)
- 2007 -- Hideki Okajima (BOS)
- 2006 -- None
- 2005 -- Justin Duchscherer (OAK; also made All-Star team as a starter in 2008)
- 2004 -- Tom Gordon (NYY; also made All-Star teams as a closer in 1998 and 2006)
There are also several other deserving middle-relief candidates besides McGee and Wade. Pitchers like the Yankees' Dellin Betances (4-0, 44 IP, 1.43 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 72 K), the Giants' Jean Machi (5-0, 31.1 IP, 0.29 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 23 K) and the Pirates' Tony Watson (5-0, 35.2 IP, 0.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 45 K) could all be All-Stars.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.