Dodgers News: Ryan Pepiot Finding Success With Improved Changeup

Ryan Pepiot was set to begin the season on the Opening Day roster as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ fifth starter, but an oblique/intercostal injury suffered in Spring Training put a hold on that and cost him more than half the year.

Pepiot worked his way back in the middle of August and has since been making spot starts for the Dodgers while also spending some time at Triple-A Oklahoma City and Camelback Ranch, where he was working through some mechanics.

The right-hander has now made three appearances (one start) for the Dodgers this year, throwing 14 innings with a 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 14 strikeouts. Pepiot has also only walked two hitters compared to the 27 free passes handed out over 36.1 innings last season.

“Yeah, definitely a lot more confidence,” Pepiot said. “Last year being able to come up for some outings and get those under my belt, I was able to come back this year and have a totally different mindset. I knew what to expect a little bit rather than just coming up and not really having any idea what was going on.”

While coming up through the Minor Leagues, Pepiot relied on his changeup to dominate hitters. It was so effective some scouts had it as an 80-grade pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, with a 70 rating on the lower-end.

In the Majors, Pepiot struggled to find the changeup last season, but this year it’s been his most effective pitch. “The biggest difference is the fact that it’s in the zone and over the plate,” Pepiot explained.

“It’s not just an automatic ball out of my hand. So just being able to have that if I get behind in the count or have something else to go to behind the fastball.”

Pepiot credited the improvements of the pitch to multiple factors, including his confidence, mechanical changes, his release point and different cues that have made it tougher for hitters to pick up.

“Last year it was so much of a ball out of hand and basically an easy pitch for the other teams to spit on,” Pepiot said. “Just being able to have an extra weapon in the arsenal helps.”

The Dodgers have yet to commit to Pepiot as their full-time fifth starter, but with each outing, he seemingly grows closer to claiming that role.

Ryan Pepiot not focused on making postseason roster

While Pepiot is competing to earn a permanent spot in the rotation, he’s also auditioning for a potential playoff role as the Dodgers have roughly one month to figure out their best roster for October.

However, the 26-year-old isn’t thinking ahead and just wants to do his job each time out.

“I don’t think of it too much that way,” Pepiot said when asked if he sees this as a tryout for the postseason.

“Just kind of whenever my name is called, whatever role, just take the ball when the opportunity arises and go out there and give it everything I got.”

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