Tepera introduced his changeup in 2018 and only used it 6.2% of the time last season. Only 2 mph slower than his cutter and 7 mph slower than his fastball/sinker, the change did little to fool opposing hitters. Its 91.3 mph exit velocity against was the highest of his repertoire.
Once upon a time, Tepera threw his slider 16.8% of the time for a 33.3% strikeout rate without allowing a walk. That time was not last year, as he, for whatever reason, has thrown his slider less than 6% of the time each of the last four seasons, as it has accumulated a 45% strikeout rate since 2016.
A series of injuries coupled with age have taken a bite out of Tepera’s fastball velocity (down from 95.8 mph in 2015 to 93.4 mph last season). The pitch is entirely unimpressive, a big reason why he dropped its usage from 30.8% to 19.4% in 2019.
Tepera’s most effective offering, his cutter had a K-BB% greater than 30% from 2016-2018. Elite. At the outset of last season, he was throwing it for a career-low 28.9% in April and May before a right elbow inpingement shelved him until September. Upon returning, he was back to throwing it 37.3% of the time. A clean bill of health this season should let Tepera’s cutter get back on track.
The cutter usage by Tepera decreased last year thanks to the wRC+ doubling against it. The cutter continues to be a very good strikeout pitch for Tepera, but it is generating less swings outside the zone.
Tepera has increased his sinker usage as a result of throwing his cutter less often. The sinker allowed just a .214 batting average against it and the contact on pitches in the zone dropped nearly eight percentage points. The sinker generates ground balls and can continue to be a useful pitch for Tepera.
Tepera lost some horizontal and vertical movement on his four-seam this past season, rendering it less effective on contact. It did generate more swings and misses, but a 157 wRC+ against shows he needs to locate this pitch better. Tepera should decrease the usage of this pitch as he already deploys two plus fastballs.
The slider has never been a large part of Tepera’s arsenal, but with an increase in spin rate last season, Tepera may want to explore increasing the use of this pitch as a secondary strikeout pitch. In limited action, it has generated nearly a nearly 50% chase rate with over 20% swinging strikes.
The changeup is hardly even thrown by Tepera. It has more arm-side run than vertical drop, but still generates ground balls and can be used to keep hitters off balance with his extremely heavy high-velocity arsenal.