From the first week of spring training, Ryan Pepiot looked different from the rookie who was pressed into service during the 2022 season. He earned a spot in the starting rotation but then pulled an oblique, which forced him to miss four months of the season. Finally making his season debut in August, he’s made three major league appearances and looked great each time.
It’s something Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is certainly noticing. He spoke about Pepiot following his most recent outing.
“He is earning opportunities and he’s building experience, building trust. He’s doing everything he can to open our eyes even more.”Via The Athletic
Unlike last season, Pepiot is attacking the strike zone. His changeup is nasty. He has developed a slider that enhances his fastball and changeup.
“The confidence is a lot higher than it was last year,” Pepiot said.
Pitching with confidence can’t be measured or estimated how important it is. Now he doesn’t nibble at the strike zone. He throws strikes and dares the opposition to hit it. Dodger fans have seen this transition before. In 1984, Orel Hershiser was a timid rookie pitcher who nibbled at the corner of the strike zone until Tommy Lasorda called him into his office to give him the nickname of Bulldog.
Something has happened to Pepiot to give him much-needed confidence. In his 14 innings, he allowed 2 earned runs and 2 walks while striking out 14. Pepiot deserves a regular spot in the Dodger starting rotation, and with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Bobby Miller, and Lance Lynn, the Dodgers need a starter.
But, first up in September is another rookie that was pressed into action this season, Emmet Sheehan who will likely start or eat up innings in Saturday night’s game against the Braves. Pepiot should be back in the fold soon enough and could potentially pitch his way into a postseason role for LA.