Beating out stiff competition in his own bullpen, Ryan Tepera was named the National League reliever of the month for May.
Tepera threw 14⅔ innings last month, earning seven holds while striking out 19 and allowing a single earned run.
“I’m happy for him,” manager David Ross said. “That’s a great accomplishment, a great accolade for him to get. A lot of innings and a lot of traffic that he worked through to get us in the spot that we’re in right now.”
Ross pointed specifically to a moment on May 23 in St. Louis when he called on Tepera to get the Cubs out of a jam.
With the score knotted at zero in the bottom of the seventh, Tepera took over for Tommy Nance with two runners on and nobody out. Tepera worked out of the situation without allowing a run, and the Cubs went on to beat the Cardinals 2-1.
“Tep’s done a really nice job of filling a bunch of roles for us,” Ross said. “I feel like I can bring him in with traffic. He knows how to handle the environment.”
The Cubs’ bullpen has been stellar all season. Going into Wednesday’s game, its collective 2.69 ERA was the second-best in baseball and it leads baseball in strikeout rate (close to 30%).
“Tep’s been extremely important to our success, as everybody has,” Ross said. “It really is a complete group down there that has contributed in so many different ways and everybody has their role, they fill it really well. They’ve filled in when other guys have gone down or are not having success. Just like our offense, it’s been a next-man-up mentality.”
Role players the right fit
One reason for the Cubs’ success this season is the way guys called up from Iowa have stepped up and filled in when needed.
“Our scouting department did a good job evaluating these guys in the winter of what they were looking for to put in our lineup as backups in Triple-A,” hitting coach Antony Iapoce said.
Among them, Patrick Wisdom has stood out. In the first two games of the series against the Padres, he hit three home runs and is batting .435. Wisdom played briefly with the Cubs in 2020 and had stints with the Cardinals and Rangers in 2018 and 2019, and his success in Chicago of late has not been a surprise to Iapoce.
“It wasn’t that they learned anything from us, that’s who they are,” Iapoce said. “They put the ball in play, they barrel balls up, they use the whole field, and it helps in our lineup.”
MLB celebrates Lou Gehrig Day
Wednesday marked the first “Lou Gehrig Day” in Major League Baseball. June 2 is the anniversary of both Gehrig’s debut in 1925 and of his passing in 1941.
To honor Gehrig, ballparks displayed “4ALS” and uniforms had special patches. In the Cubs’ organization, there is an especially strong connection; Marquee announcer Jon “Boog” Sciambi has for years been active in raising money and awareness for those with ALS, and David Ross has participated in several of his fundraisers.
“It’s a special day,” Ross said. “I’m glad that Major League Baseball has really brought this thing to the forefront.”
Cubs at Giants
Thursday: Zach Davies (2-2, 4.65 ERA) vs. Anthony Desclafini (4-2, 3.56), 8:45p.m., Marquee, 670-AM.
Friday: Jake Arrieta (5-5, 4.41 ERA) vs. TBD, 8:45p.m., Marquee, 670-AM.
Saturday: Kohl Stewart (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. TBD, 6:15p.m., Fox-32, 670-AM.
Sunday: Kyle Hendricks (6-4, 4.62 ERA) vs. TBD, 3:05p.m., Marquee, 670-AM.