The Los Angeles Angels activated Ryan Tepera from the 15-day injured list prior to their series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. To make room on the active roster, Andrew Wantz was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Tepera was dealing with shoulder tightness but expressed optimism he caught it early enough that it wouldn’t cause him to miss extended time. He returns to an 11.25 ERA with a 3.00 WHIP and two strikeouts in four innings.
The 35-year-old was signed over the previous offseason to add an arm to specialize in high-leverage spots, and his 3.61 ERA in 57.1 innings with 17 holds provided just that. But as volatile as relievers are in Major League Baseball, the right-hander has allowed five earned runs through four innings this season, allowing opposing hitters to post a .500 batting average.
Tepera owns a career 3.59 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 357 strikeouts across 358.2 innings. He also has 18 career saves, with six of them coming during the 2022 season, and 82 holds.
Wantz has been the Angels’ most effective reliever, but was, unfortunately, the victim of a roster crunch. He is one of two pitchers in the bullpen with options left, along with Chase Silseth, that would allow the club to avoid the risk of losing a pitcher to another team.
The 27-year-old has pitched 11.1 innings this season, posting a 0.79 ERA with 12 strikeouts and a 0.71 WHIP. He was previously recalled when Tepera was placed on the IL.
Wantz opened the season with the Angels, but he was first optioned when Griffin Canning returned from the IL. The Angels considered it a tough decision to send Wantz to the Minor Leagues, but expressed they view him as an important piece of the bullpen and that he would be back in 2023.
The right-hander owns a 3.44 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP and 102 strikeouts over 89 innings in his career. He should be the next man up once again when the Angels need to recall a pitcher.
Was optioning Wantz the right move for the Angels?
With the Angels fighting to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014, every game is important. That makes the decision to option Wantz highly questionable.
Angels manager Phil Nevin said in Spring Training that the best players are going to play and the team isn’t worried about the salary a player is making in their decisions, but the decision to now option Wantz for a second time goes against that idea.
Optioning your best reliever to avoid the potential of losing a player such as Chris Devinski, Aaron Loup or Tepera to another club just doesn’t make sense. Sure, pitching depth is valuable, but not as valuable as wins, especially to a club that risks losing Shohei Ohtani in the offseason for their lack of winning.
Relievers are a dime a dozen, but it’s hard to build an effective bullpen when you don’t keep the best players in it.
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