Cubs bullpen has been positively impacted by Ryan Tepera

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs reliever Ryan Tepera’s addition to the pen helped increase consistency and lessen the team’s bullpen woes

It is no secret that the Chicago Cubs bullpen began the 2020 60-game abbreviated season struggling. While the bats have been hot, the defense has been stellar and the starting rotation has been solid, the bullpen has faltered since day one. In fact, during the very first week of the season, the bullpen posted a 9.64 ERA and a 21.1 percent walk rate, ranking the worst among the rest of the league. From then on, first-year skipper David Ross knew that change needed to come for the North Siders to contend in 2020.

Craig Kimbrel, 32, was guaranteed the closer role going into the beginning of the shortened season. However, his 2019 struggles followed him into the 2020 season, and after his first three outings, he was basically pulled from that closer role and has been working on his mechanics ever since. While he has made appearances and shown improvement, there is still work to be done. Meanwhile, relievers including Rowan Wick and especially Jeremy Jeffress have looked decent, if not good, but changes still needed to be made for contention in a season where every game matters more than ever before. It should be noted that injuries made this need for change all that much more urgent.

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Among the modifications that have been made were the additions of Colin Rea and Ryan Tepera to the pen. Specifically, the arm of veteran right-hander Ryan Tepera seems to have been one of the most consistent moves and has made all the difference.

Tepera, 32 was sent down to South Bend alternative site at the beginning of the campaign. While the Cubs took advantage of expanded rosters and carried extra relievers on their 30-man Opening Day Roster, Tepera wasn’t one of them. However, during his stint in South Bend, not only did he prove himself worthy of given a chance in the bigs but he also earned himself acknowledgment and a well-deserved apology from skipper Ross.

Then, during his time with the Cubs, Tepera has emerged as one of Ross’s most trusted relievers and has been consistent in his appearances. Entering this past Saturday’s game, the Cubs bullpen ERA has dropped from 9.64 to 6.10 and their walk rate was cut from 21.1 percent to 13.0. Not including Kimbrel and his struggles discussed above, the other eight relievers active have a combined 3.86 ERA which is not too shabby considering the state the bullpen was in at the beginning of the abbreviated season.

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32-year-old Tepera has a career 3.62 ERA across 224 games played. In 2020, Tepera carries a 3.12 ERA across eight appearances. Hopefully, the right-hander stays consistent and keeps the bullpen moving in the right direction.