The Detroit Tigers may be in rebuilding mode, but they struck a deal for veteran Nick Tepesch. Here’s what to expect from the right-hander.
Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila pulled off a bit of a surprising move, sending cash considerations to the Blue Jays in exchange for veteran right-hander Nick Tepesch.
Buying veteran pitchers in August is a move that playoff teams make, not one that you typically see from an obviously rebuilding team like Detroit. However, this addition does make sense for the Tigers. For no other reason than Detroit needs pitching. Bad.
First, about Tepesch. He was drafted in the 14th round in the 2010 draft by the Rangers. He made his big league debut in 2013. From 2013-2014, Tepesch made 39 starts for Texas. He posted a 4.56 ERA (4.66 FIP) with a 1.36 WHIP. His 5.4 K/9 wasn’t great, although his 2.9 BB/9 was at least passable.
Since then, Tepesch has bounced around, making a combined five starts with the Twins, Dodgers and Blue Jays. He has yet to reach the majors in 2018, splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A.
There’s no way around it, Tepesch hasn’t been very good in 2018. In 48.1 innings at AA, Tepesch has a 5.21 ERA (4.76 FIP) with a 5.59 K/9. He’s been even worse at AAA, with a ghastly 7.90 ERA (7.32 FIP) and just a 4.39 K/9.
So Why’d Detroit Sign Him?
Well, if you saw Jacob Turner‘s start on Tuesday, you know that Detroit could use some reinforcements on the mound. Plus, Francisco Liriano is all but certain to be traded before the August 31 waiver trade deadline. Jordan Zimmermann is a potential trade candidate, and it wouldn’t be out of the question to see players like Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy dealt as well.
Tepesch is added depth, and is very likely going to enter Detroit’s Triple-A rotation. It wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him eat up innings for the Tigers down the stretch.
If he does, Detroit will be getting a crafty right-hander. His fastball sits in the low-90’s, and his best pitch is his slider. His slider has a 10.6% swinging strike rate and a 32.6% o-swing rate, both above average. He’s not a high strikeout guy, but he generates a lot of soft contact and a ton of infield fly balls.
Tepesch’s contract runs out at the end of the season, so he is nothing more than a temporary stopgap. The Tigers could (and certainly may) re-sign him to a cheap one year deal for 2019. If he pitches well, either in the rotation or in the bullpen, the Detroit Tigers could flip him at the deadline for more prospects. Such is the life of a rebuilding team.