For some odd reason, it took until 2017 for Ryan Tepera to become a regular in the Blue Jays bullpen. Perhaps it had something to do with him just making the transition from starting pitcher to reliever back in 2014. Tepera had limited success as a starter, but almost immediately after making the switch to becoming a reliever is when his career really took off.
Last season, Tepera, in his first full year with the Blue Jays, led all Toronto relievers in innings pitched (77.2) and appearances (73). Before Dominic Leone was traded to the St.Louis Cardinals, the bullpen appeared to be the Blue Jays greatest strength. Now, with Leone’s departure however, there’s quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding Toronto’s bullpen, especially when there’s pretty much only four guaranteed relievers (Tepera, Roberto Osuna, Danny Barnes, and Aaron Loup) returning from last years club.
Even before Tepera’s breakout year in 2017, it wasn’t hard to see that he’d play a significant role on the Blue Jays someday. That day probably should have happened a heck of a lot sooner than it did considering that Tepera more than proved himself in limited action with the Blue Jays during both 2015 and 2016.
Last season Tepera ranked 9th in innings pitched and 10th in appearances amongst all MLB relievers. As much of an accomplishment as that is, given the current lack of depth in Toronto’s bullpen, and Tepera’s history as a starting pitcher, the Blue Jays can probably lean on him even more than they did last year.
Not since 2009 when Shawn Camp threw 79.2 innings has Toronto had a reliever pitch as many innings as Tepera did in 2017. In today’s game of coaches babying pitchers, it’s nice to see the Blue Jays call on Tepera as often as they do. This isn’t likely to change in 2018, in fact, Toronto will likely push Tepera even harder this coming season.