Tepera, Biagini, Leon round out evolving Blue Jays bullpen
The Blue Jays will open the year with eight relievers in the bullpen as Marco Estrada spends the first week of the season on the disabled list
The Blue Jays bullpen has come fully into focus. For this week, at least.
Manager John Gibbons announced early this morning that Ryan Tepera, Joe Biagini, and Arnold Leon will round out an eight-man bullpen to open the season. Expect one of the three to be optioned in time for Marco Estrada to return from the disabled list on April 10th.
Gibbons also announced Roberto Osuna as the team’s closer and Ezequiel Carrera as the fourth outfielder when speaking with reporters.
These moves do create a bullpen that, by traditional standards, is unbalanced with seven right-handers and just one lefty in Brett Cecil. Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte appears to have just missed the cut, but it’s being reported that the Blue Jays plan on using Tepera as their “second lefty” given his reverse splits last season.
This much is true, albeit over a very small sample size.
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Tepera faced 59 left-handed batters in 2015, and they managed a weak slash line of .137 / .254 / .314 against him. Lefties actually hit Tepera quite well if you stretch back earlier in his career (2013 double-A, for example), but the Blue Jays are confident that he has made all necessary adjustments.
With this, it appears that Tepera’s spot in secure in the short term. Expecting him to be the Blue Jays second lefty for 162 games, however, is a little optimistic. The return of Aaron Loup or a surge from Minor Leaguer Chad Girodo could push the 28-year-old Texan.
In Biagini, of course, the Blue Jays have a Rule 5 pick who must either stay for the entirety of 2016 on the Major League roster or be offered back to the San Francisco Giants. Last year, Biagini pitched at the double-A level where he recorded a 2.42 ERA over 22 starts and 130.1 innings.
Leon represents another difficult choice upcoming as he is out of Minor League options years. The Mexican right-hander transitioned into a bullpen role last year while making his MLB debut with the Oakland Athletics, but does have a long track record as a Minor League starter. With Biagini, Gavin Floyd, and Jesse Chavez already capable of some bullpen length, Leon will quickly need to separate himself from the pack if he hopes to stick.