Thanks to his numbers against lefties, Ryan Tepera has been named to the Blue Jays bullpen, but his spot may not be secure.
On Wednesday morning, the Toronto Blue Jays announced the final spots on their big league roster. Much of the attention was given to the closer’s role and who would be named to that position. However, who rounded out the rest of the bullpen was just as, if not more, interesting. There weren’t any real surprises. But, with Aaron Loup starting the season on the DL, Brett Cecil is the only left handed member of the group. And, we all know how much that stung in the playoffs just a few months ago.
Perhaps, with that fresh in the memory, the Blue Jays wanted to ensure there was indeed another option for left handed batters out of the ‘pen. Their answer was to include Ryan Tepera on the roster. Tepera did a good job for the team last season and has earned his little corner of manager John Gibbons‘ mind. What seems to be especially warm and fuzzy about him is his success against left handed batters. This may seem odd, given that he is a right handed pitcher. But, the numbers show that he has been effective in this role. Or, do they?
Against left handed batters in 2015, Tepera had good success, according to Fangraphs. He held them to a .137 average and a .254 OBP to go with a 0.89 WHIP. Oh, they also saw a BABIP of .103. All of this sure is reason to think that he would be a great option against lefties. But, we need to stop and think about this for a minute. We’re talking about this success as if it were gospel. We have to remember that this all came from a sample size of just 14.2 of his 33 innings. Not even half of his 2015 service came against lefties. Can we really base any long term decisions on 14.2 innings?
And, there is the issue. The club is not making any long term plans based on this alone. As it looks right now, Loup will be on the DL for a short period of time and joining the club soon. Obviously, he is the more reliable lefty choice for the club. For his career (approx. 210 innings since 2012- an average of ~52 innings per season), Loup has seen 87.2 innings against lefties. This gives us roughly a season and a half of evidence from Loup. He’s held lefties to a .203 average and a .273 OBP with a WHIP of 0.90.
It is not the hottest of takes to suggest that Loup is a better option against left handed batters than Tepera. We know this. Rather, the point is that Tepera’s time with the big league club may be short. He still has an option remaining, so they can send him to AAA Buffalo without concern. Removing a guy like Joe Biagini is more difficult (they’d have to offer him back to the Giants if they did). It would make sense that, once Loup (and certainly Marco Estrada) returns, Tepera is the odd man out.
And, it is too bad. The familiarity and faith that he has developed with and from the Blue Jays has been earned. This is not knocking the player at all. He has certainly shown that he deserves the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen. But, the situation that has resulted in him filling that role is exactly what will lead to him losing the role.
*Featured Image Credit: Joel Dinda UNDER: CC BY-SA 2.0
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