Prior to this afternoon’s game against the Cardinals, the Cubs reinstated reliever Ryan Tepera from the 10-day injured list. Bullpen mate Brad Wieck was placed on the 10-day IL, retroactive to July 7, with an irregular heartbeat. Additionally, the Cubs recalled southpaw Kyle Ryan from Triple-A Iowa and optioned righty Cory Abbott.
Tepera landed on the IL due to a calf strain in late April, interrupting what has been a quality season. The veteran right-hander has worked to a 3.35 ERA/3.32 SIERA over 37 2/3 innings, holding fourteen leads as a high-leverage option for manager David Ross. Tepera has backed that solid run prevention up with quality peripherals. He’s punched out an above-average 28.3% of batters faced while walking just 8.3% and inducing groundballs at a decent 47.7% clip.
It’s the second straight season of strong work for Tepera, who joined the Cubs entering 2020 after five years with the Blue Jays. Since signing with Chicago, he’s tossed 58 1/3 frames of 3.55 ERA ball with a very strong 30.8% strikeout percentage. More impressively, Tepera has racked up swings and misses on 17.4% of his pitches over the past two seasons. That’s the eighth-highest swinging strike rate among the 282 hurlers with at least 50 innings pitched (behind only Jacob deGrom, Raisel Iglesias, Devin Williams, Josh Hader, Liam Hendriks, Edwin Díaz and Trevor May).
That kind of bat-missing capability is sure to attract interest from bullpen-needy contenders. The Cubs now look like deadline sellers after a horrible two weeks of play. Tepera’s on a modest $800K guarantee and is scheduled to reach free agency at the end of the year. Few relievers on the trade market can match that combination of productivity and affordability, and his lack of long-term control means he’s likely to wind up on the move in the coming weeks.
It stands to reason that contenders would inquire about Wieck if he were healthy as well. He’s been unscored upon across 17 innings this year while punching batters out at a massive 39.4% clip. Wieck has been prone to walks (14.1%) but it’s still been a strong effort nonetheless.
The Cubs didn’t provide a timetable for his return, but the diagnosis of an abnormal heartbeat is especially concerning given Wieck’s personal history. The left-hander underwent a cardiac ablation procedure in February 2020 after a routine physical turned up an atrial flutter. Given the sensitivity of the diagnosis, Wieck’s personal health is obviously paramount to any on-field concerns. Fortunately, he did return from his surgery to make it back to the mound last year (before suffering an unrelated hamstring injury).