Blue Jays’ Year In Review: The Good, Bad, & the Ugly – Ryan Tepera
Jays Journal takes a look back at 2017, and the good, bad, and the ugly of each individual performance from the roster. Today we look at breakout reliever Ryan Tepera.
Raise your hands if you would have said that Ryan Tepera would be a bullpen staple for the entire year, have an fWAR of 1.0 and be one of the more relied upon relievers in tight situations for John Gibbons. I don’t think anybody would have raised their hands. I know I wouldn’t have, especially because my main memory which clouded by the judgment of Ryan Tepera after his 4 pitch walk-off walk at the San Francisco Giants in 2016.
Tepera almost didn’t even make the Blue Jays Opening Day 25 man roster. It came down to Mike Bolsinger and Ryan Tepera for the final bullpen spot on the final day of Spring Training in Montreal. Bolsinger ended up being DFA’d and Tepera didn’t look back after earning his spot in the Blue Jays bullpen.
There was a lot of good from Ryan Tepera in 2017. Where do I even begin? The first thing I point to is his coming out party with three specific appearances in April. His biggest appearance came in extra-innings win at the Los Angeles Angels (April 21st) where Tepera 3.0 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts to get his first career win. The second was the appearance following this one at the St. Louis Cardinals (April 25th) where he picked up his first major league save in another extra innings game. The final appearance in Tepera’s coming out party was on April 30th when he threw 3.1 innings with 5 strikeouts in a win against the Tampa Bay Rays.
From the coming out party onwards, Tepera was pretty much lights out the remainder of the season. Despite it not meaning much at all, I would be foolish to not mention his 7-1 record out of the bullpen. He also featured a beautiful 9.39 K/9 and 0.81 HR/9. Tepera made up for a lack of a left-hander in the bullpen by holding left-handers to a BAA of .192. The majority of his stats are quite good and you can put almost all of them in the good category.
Guys like Ryan Tepera become quite easy to root for. He’s always had the talent and stuff to be a successful major league reliever. He just never seemed to be able to put it all together consistently when he had his shots in 2015 and 2016. Despite his good ERA’s in 2015 and 2016, people were never the biggest fan of Tepera’s. He shut every doubter up in 2017, making him a good person to cheer for and have high expectations for in 2018.
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Much like the year in review piece I wrote on J.A. Happ, I am going to be somewhat nitpicky with what I classify as “the bad” for Ryan Tepera.
The few stats that I would actually put in here would be his BB/9. Tepera has always had some control issues and that trend continued in 2017. His BB/9 in 2017 was 3.59. While Tepera was very good in 2017, he can take himself to the next level by cutting down on the amount of free passes. His GB% of 41.6% in 2017 compared to 58.5% in 2016 (small sample size though) is another area that I would like to see improve in 2018.
Tepera’s worst stretch came in early April before his coming out party. However, the reason for the inflated 5.93 ERA is from just two relief appearances. April 16th against the Baltimore Orioles he allowed 4 runs in just .1 innings. April 27th at the Cardinals he allowed another 3 runs in just .1 innings. Remove those two meltdowns and he only allowed 2 runs the remainder of his April appearances. Tepera also struggled in July with a 5.56 ERA and in September with a 4.22 ERA. Chalk up the latter due to the amount he was used in 2017.
I feel like I’ve nitpicked in this section, but they are the only things that I would classify as bad. Should you feel I missed something, please comment it in the comment section.
The Ugly for Ryan Tepera isn’t anything related to his performance on the field or something under his control. Tepera was used for a whopping 77.2 innings in 2017, something I hope doesn’t come back to bite him or the Blue Jays in 2018.
John Gibbons truly had no other places to go. At times, Tepera was the only guy John Gibbons could trust out of the bullpen. At other times, the Blue Jays had no relievers who could give them length, so Tepera would be used as a “long man”.
The Blue Jays are going to need Ryan Tepera to be his 2017 self in 2018, so under the ugly section, I will say the amount he was used is the only thing to chalk up as ugly. The 77.2 innings were his highest total since 2015, where he threw 67.0 innings between AAA and the MLB. Let’s hope Ryan Tepera will be good for 2018 after a heavy workload in 2017.
Relievers are an extremely tough breed to project from season-to-season unless you’re a dominant reliever like Kenley Jansen. Therefore, I find it difficult to put a concrete projection out there for Ryan Tepera.
What I will say is that should he be healthy, you should expect him to still be an effective reliever, but one wonders if some of the batted ball profiles against him like a nearly 30.0% hard contact rate or a 40.6 FB% will come back to haunt him a bit more in 2018.
Next: Blue Jays’ Year in Review: Justin Smoak
Ryan Tepera should be a steady and effective reliever again in 2018, but I would caution fans from thinking he will replicate the success he had in 2017 despite the lack of “bad” I touched on in this piece. The innings totals from 2017 are my biggest concern for 2018. If he’s healthy, he will still be counted on for some big outs in 2018.