Ryan Tepera allowed runs in his first two appearances as a Cub back on July 27th and 28th, but since then he’s looked very impressive. Since those first two outings, Tepera has not allowed a run in 6.2 innings, has the highest ground ball rate on the team and has struck out eight batters (second most in Cubs’ bullpen behind Kimbrel-9).
Not sold yet? Tepera is in the 95th percentile of qualified MLB pitchers (398 total pitchers) in expected wOBA, expected slugging percentage and strikeout percentage for this season. He is also first on the Cubs in expected wOBA; although he is behind Jeremy Jeffress in actual wOBA, which means Jeffress has been getting better outcomes out of his balls in play than he probably should be.
How has Tepera been successful so far?
With this graph from baseballsavant, we can look at Ryan Tepera’s pitch usage over the last few years. He basically phased out his four-seamer and subsequently been using his cutter and slider more. He’s throwing the stuff that moves more and batters are struggling against those pitches.
Below we see a breakdown of what Tepera’s thrown this year
|Pitch Type||Pitches||Vs R||Vs L||PA||H||HR||SO||BBE||BA|
The only pitch of his that’s getting hit is the sinker; opponents have a .364 batting average against it and only a .071 against his cutter! We see that ten of his 14 strikeouts have come from the cutter too. That’s his putout pitch and it’s clearly his best pitch. Since he’s cutback on the four-seamer and started throwing his best pitch (the cutter) more, he’s been much better and he probably should throw it even more than he already is.
Below we see where he’s been throwing his cutter this year.
He’s throwing it down and away to righties, basically a harder version of his slider. To lefties he’s a bit more all over the place, but still heavy on the down-and-in action. That’s the most effective when he can also spot that changeup on the outside going away from lefties.
Ryan Tepera has been very good lately, but hasn’t yet gotten the high leverage opportunities. If he can keep this up and keep throwing his cutter, he might get those opportunities in the future and at the very least provide depth to a Cubs bullpen that has really needed some over the last few seasons.