It was a bit surprising to see Ryan Tepera bounce back-and-forth between Triple-A Buffalo and Toronto in 2016. Not only was the 29-year-old impressive as a rookie the prior year (3.27 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 33 innings), Tepera also pitched well at the MLB level in his most recent season. Over 20 appearances (18.1 innings), the right-hander managed a 2.95 ERA and stranded 79.2 percent of hitters out of the Jays' bullpen. In fairness, Tepera's 3.75 FIP in 2016 wasn't good, and his 3.9 BB/9 was his worst mark since 2013 with Double-A New Hampshire. On the other hand, the middle reliever sports a good mid-90s fastball and has a history of limiting the long ball. With many holes to fill in their bullpen for 2017, the Jays will certainly afford Tepera a fair shot at earning a spot on the Opening Day roster in the year ahead.
Tepera pitched a scoreless inning, allowing three hits and picking up a strikeout in Monday's exhibition game against the Pirates. Tepera allowed three singles, but mixed in a double-play before striking out Pirates star Gregory Polanco on three pitches. The right-hander has appeared in 52 games for the Jays over the past two seasons while holding opponents to a .208 BAA en route to a 3.16 ERA over 51.1 innings. A starter at the beginning of his professional career, Tepera has been a full-time reliever in the majors and minors since 2014. He's competing for an Opening Day bullpen job.
Tepera will likely spend another season bouncing between the majors and Triple-A Buffalo, MLB.com reports. Over the past two seasons, Tepera has pitched in 52 big league games and 58 minor league contests. The 29-year-old right-hander has done well at both levels which will earn him a fair chance to compete for a job this spring. If Tepera can somehow manage to stay on the major league roster all season, he could hold some value in the deepest of leagues.
Tepera has managed a respectable 3.86 ERA over nine outings -- seven of which were scoreless appearances -- this month since being recalled as part of roster expansions. Although Tepera's ERA doesn't appear to be a problem, his 1.57 WHIP might explain why he isn't used in high-leverage situations. The 28-year-old right-hander was actually more successful in his previous stays with the team this season, posting six consecutive scoreless appearances over seven innings from June 1 to Aug. 16.
Tepera was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Friday, Shi Davidi of SportsNet reports. Tepera's time with Toronto was limited this season, as he threw just 9.1 innings across nine games. However, he allowed just three runs in that time, giving him a 2.89 ERA in the majors. He was fantastic with Buffalo and put up a 2.58 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 37 games (45.1 innings).
Tepera was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday, Barry Davis of Sportsnet reports. Kevin Pillar was brought off the disabled list, so Toronto has opted to send Tepera back down to Buffalo. Tepera pitched 4.2 shutout innings over four games during his latest stint with the Blue Jays, bringing his ERA down to 2.89 for the season. He's had similar success at Buffalo for the year as well, where he owns a 2.66 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.