Jays From the Couch brings you the player Highlights & Lowlights from the 2017 season. This time: Ryan Tepera
In a season which saw many components of the pitching staff suffer through numerous injuries, there was one bright spot in, Ryan Tepera. After bouncing back and forth between Buffalo and Toronto with varying degrees of success over the two previous seasons, the Houston native used 2017 as his own coming out party.
In 2017, Tepera, completed his first full season of MLB service. In doing so, he set career highs in several important categories for relievers. Such high included innings pitched (77.2), appearances (73), and SO/9 (9.4). While his ERA and FIP are higher than previous seasons, it shouldn’t be overlooked that he took the ball on many more occasions that previous seasons, often in high leverage situations.
On April 21st, after starting the season with a 9.00 ERA over six appearances, Tepera, put it all together during a three inning relief appearance in Anaheim. His outing covered innings 10 thru 12 where he held the Angels hit-less while recording three strikeouts. He was also rewarded with the first win of his major league career.
Although there were some bumps in the road shortly after that appearance, it certainly seemed to boost his confidence that he belonged at the MLB level. The right-hander would spin together a 19 IP stint from April 30th to May 27th where he didn’t allow a single run. Over this period he recorded 22 strikeouts while allowing opposing hitters to manage a paltry 100/206/117 slash line.
The lowest part of the season may have come at the very start. Like most everyone on the roster, Tepera, struggled mightily out of the gate. Not only was the team 0-6, and in last place in the standings but, the reliever’s inconsistency was not endearing him with the brass. His first six appearances covered 6.0 IP while allowing six earned runs, with hitters managing a bloated 304/385/478 slash line.
Another area of concern for the Sam Houston State alum was the decrease in his ground-ball percentage. In his previous season the reliever put up an excellent GB % of 58.5 with a FB % of 26.4. Each of these took a step backwards in 2017 to 41.6 and 40.6, respectively. With the small ballparks in the American League East the ability to keep the ball on the ground is paramount; however his 0.81 HR/9 ratio over a career high of 73 appearances is very respectable.
The work put in in 2017 will place Tepera as a bullpen certainty for the 2018 season. Though it would be prudent not to look to him as a permanent answer during late inning situations, unless the bullpen core is not beefed up during the offseason. Ideally, he would be better positioned as a bridging option during the 6th and 7th innings.
Ryan had a little fun ingratiating himself to Canadian fans during Spring Training with a handful of fun segments which were posted to his twitter account.
— Ryan Tepera (@RTepera) March 12, 2017
— Ryan Tepera (@RTepera) March 17, 2017
Lastly, but certainly not least, in a gag that should have been shared with J.A. Happ, Tepera tried the ever so Canadian bagged milk.
— Ryan Tepera (@RTepera) March 25, 2017
Which he ended up showing no mercy.
— Ryan Tepera (@RTepera) March 26, 2017
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.