The Los Angeles Angels signed Ryan Tepera to a two-year deal worth $14 million to serve as a late-game reliever the Angels could rely on. Tepera was coming off of a career year that saw him split time with the Cubs and White Sox. He had a 2.79 ERA in 65 appearances and struck batters out at a 32% clip. That ranked in the 88th percentile according to baseball savant.
Tepera's 2022 season wasn't nearly as good. He had a 3.61 ERA in 59 appearances, and saw his strikeout rate dip to 20.3%.
The right-hander won't be tasked with as many high-leverage opportunities because of the additions the Angels made, but he's still an important piece to the puzzle. For him to have a better season, he should have one goal in mind.
Angels reliever Ryan Tepera should focus on throwing his sinker more than his four-seam fastball
Ryan Tepera is known for his slider. He threw it 36.8% of the time, more than any other pitch he throws. He held hitters to a .173 average and opponents whiffed at it 20.5% of the time. Tepera's most used pitch after his slider is his fastball. After getting good results with that pitch in 2021, that pitch was not as effective last season.
Tepera threw his four-seamer 31.6% of the time this past season and averaged 92.6 mph with the pitch. He threw it 33.3% of the time in 2021 and averaged 93.3 mph with his fastball. There's definitely a velocity drop, but it's not one to be overly concerned over. That shouldn't have changed the results with the pitch as much as it did.
Opponents hit .259 with a .448 slugging percentage against his fastball. They hit .179 and slugged .250 against the pitch in 2021. The big issue with his fastball is he wasn't able to put hitters away with it.
Opponents whiffed at the pitch 18% of the time in 2021 and struck out at a 20.6% rate. Those numbers fell to 13.1% and 8.7% respectively.
Tepera averaged 92.9 mph with his sinker, so he threw it slightly harder than the four-seamer. He threw it just 16.7% of the time, but had very good results. He held hitters to a .132 average while they whiffed at the pitch 24.3% of the time and struck out with it 15.9% of the time.
Tepera's best pitch will always be his slider, but he needs to have more than one elite pitch. Raise the usage of the sinker, and I think he'll improve in 2023.