Ryan Tepera caught a lot of attention during the 2021 season with his fastball & slider combo, but after the Los Angeles Angels signed him to be a key piece to their bullpen, he’s largely struggled in his eighth year in Major League Baseball.
His success with the Chicago Cubs made him a key target for many teams at last year’s trade deadline, ultimately leading to a trade with the Chicago White Sox. Tepera lowered his ERA from 2.91-to-2.50 following the move, making his offseason hopes that much higher.
But Tepera has underperformed with the Angels after signing a 2-year, $14 million contract, carrying a 4.03 ERA prior to his outing on Sept. 18 against the Seattle Mariners.
Tepera and the Angels took a step back and instead of tweaking his arsenal, they simply made minor adjustments, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“I think it’s a good combination,” Tepera said. “I made my career on being fastball-slider, and it’s always been a hard slider. I’ve never had anything slow enough to kind of get the batters off of everything that’s hard. They can kind of just sit hard whether it’s a slider or a fastball. Absolutely in the offseason, I’m gonna look into it. Just kind of keep that feel and keep throwing it. I think it’ll be a big weapon.”
Tepera maintains a hard hit rate that grades out in the 98th percentile, but with a strikeout rate in the 30th percentile, he’s struggled to limit contact this season.
“I’d say I just never really got in a groove,” Tepera said. “I think as a relief pitcher, you kind of get on a hot streak and you just kind of ride with it. I never felt like I got in that groove. I was kind of inconsistent all year.”
Tepera wound up striking out the side after debuting his ‘slower’ slider, which clocked in at an average velocity of 83.5 mph, down from his average 85.6 on the season. His hope is to replicate this success and keep working with it the rest of the way.
Patrick Sandoval continues to shine
If there were any doubts remaining that Patrick Sandoval would be a major part of the Angels’ future, his recent stretch of play should serve as confirmation. Another good outing on Tuesday against the Texas Rangers pointed to a larger trend of improved pitching for Sandoval.
On Tuesday night, Sandoval tossed 5.0 innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits and four walks. While the high walk totals are a bit reminiscent of earlier this season, he coupled it with only three hits and a whopping seven strikeouts.
Sandoval had shown significant frustration with his play to start 2022. In 13 starts between May 2 and July 23, Sandoval amassed a 4.43 ERA and 1.623 WHIP, neither figure resembling anything close to where he’d like to be. But between starts on July 23 and 29, a switch flipped.