Notes: Tepera hits IL for 'little bit of a breath'

June 30th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- Losing for any period of time right now is an undeniable blow to the Cubs' bullpen. That said, manager David Ross believes a break for the reliever could have benefits.

Prior to Tuesday's game against the Brewers, Tepera was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a left calf strain. Ross noted that the heavily used righty has also been dealing with some other minor health issues.

"It just looks like he's working really hard right now," Ross said. "I don't know if that's fatigue or just working through injuries. So, I think it just made a lot of sense on a lot of levels to IL him and give him a little bit of a breath."

The decision to deactivate Tepera -- one within the Cubs' dominant late-inning trio, alongside lefty Andrew Chafin and closer Craig Kimbrel -- comes after his part in a 10-run disaster in the eighth inning of Monday's 14-4 loss in Milwaukee.

There were no red flags found in Tepera's pitch velocity in his six-batter outing, but it was part of a string of rough appearances of late. The righty has given up seven runs on five hits with five walks in his past four games, following an 18-game scoreless streak that featured 26 strikeouts, two walks and only three hits in 20 1/3 innings.

Entering Tuesday, Tepera's 37 games were one off the Major League lead and his 37 2/3 innings led Chicago's bullpen (ranking 15th among MLB relievers). Overall, Tepera has seen his season ERA climb to 3.35 from 1.82 in his last four outings.

"We've leaned heavily on him and [Chafin]," Ross said. "But our bullpen as a whole has done a pretty good job. The totality of the group has done phenomenal."

With Tepera out and righty Trevor Megill optioned to Triple-A Iowa, Chicago recalled Tommy Nance and selected the contract of lefty Adam Morgan to help the relief corps. As for the setup duties sans Tepera, Ross named Brad Wieck and Dan Winkler as two options.

"We'll figure that out," Ross said. "I don't think anybody's really set up in any roles. I know we've flip-flopped [Chafin] and [Tepera]. Wink's gotten some big outs for us. Brad Wieck's thrown well lately. We'll see."

Bryant sits with side issue
Filling in as Chicago's first baseman on Monday night, Kris Bryant made a handful of highlight-reel defensive plays. That included a diving snag to rob Omar Narváez of a would-be hit in the seventh inning.

The issue was that Bryant also tweaked his right side on the play -- an injury that first flared over the weekend in Los Angeles, per Ross. Under the circumstances, the manager held Bryant out of the starting lineup for Tuesday's game.

"It's pretty sore. We talked about it last night after the game," Ross said Tuesday. "We'll just kind of wait and react. He's getting some treatment now. He'll try to swing a bat a little later on."

Worth noting
• Nationals slugger Kyle Schwarber homered again Tuesday, giving him a dozen homers in a 10-game span and 16 shots in his past 18 games. And, yes, Ross has been following the former Cubs outfielder's historic tear.

"I mean, what the heck? The guy's going off," Ross said with a laugh on Tuesday. "I've sent him a couple texts in the middle of all that. I'm super happy for him."

• Patrick Wisdom's towering, game-tying homer in the seventh inning on Monday night marked the third baseman's first pinch-hit blast with the Cubs. The shot soared a projected 435 feet, per Statcast.

"That home run, I usually feel like I don't get too excited," Ross said. "I was excited about that one [Monday] night. That was loud. It felt good. The place erupted."

• First baseman Anthony Rizzo (back) was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday for the second straight game, but was doing better, according to Ross.

"Maybe this is me, but I don't know that we need motivation. This is the big leagues. It's a privilege to play here. And this is a good team and we're all competitors and we want to win. What other motivation do you need?" -- Ross, asked if the Trade Deadline can serve as a motivator for his players