Dodgers News: Ryan Pepiot Attributes Command Issues In MLB Debut To Nerves & Mechanics

Ryan Pepiot, the No. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers pitching prospect, made his MLB debut on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates so the team could avoid using one of their starting pitchers on short rest due to their doubleheader last weekend against the Chicago Cubs.

Pepiot was on the brink of joining L.A. last season, but it was ultimately delayed after he struggled in a short stint after being promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Dodgers considered starting Andre Jackson or Robbie Erlin against the Pirates, but instead went with their highly-touted prospect.

The 24-year-old struck out the first hitter he faced using his signature changeup, which has been deemed an 80-grade pitch by many evaluators and can already be considered one of the best of its kind at the Major League level.

Overall, Pepiot was excited to make his debut and ended up happy with the start despite only lasting three innings due to a high pitch count, via SportsNet LA:

“It was exciting, a lot of nerves. Happy to be out there, but I didn’t make some of the pitches I wanted to. Got myself in some traffic, but when I needed to, I was able to make some pitches to limit the damage.”

Pepiot threw 77 pitches but just 40 of them were strikes. That led to the right-hander walking five batters and hitting another.

Pepiot’s command has always been his biggest issue throughout the Minor Leagues, and that showed itself against the Pirates, but he was also fighting some nervousness and adrenaline:

“Combination of both. Definitely the jitters, nerves and anxiousness, but there are also some things I’ll be able to dive into mechanically.”

Pepiot, who grew up in Indiana, which is roughly a six-hour drive away from Pittsburgh, was able to have his family come to the game. He was grateful they were able to make it because he was previously playing the majority of his games in Oklahoma:

“It was very exciting. It was the first time I’ve been this close to home to play a game in a few years, so being able to have family and friends in town was very special. … They were just proud of me and really excited.”

Although Pepiot dealt with traffic on the bases throughout his start, only one of the baserunners came via a hit and he was still able to pitch three scoreless innings. He also struck out three hitters.

However, the Dodgers ended up losing the game 5-3 after their bullpen faltered in the late innings.

Pepiot then was optioned back to Oklahoma City on Thursday as the corresponding roster move to the Dodgers selecting the contract of Yency Almonte.

Erlin designated for assignment to make room for Pepiot

The Dodgers designated Erlin for assignment to make room to call up Pepiot, who had been on the taxi squad since the beginning of the series at PNC Park.

The Dodgers originally called up Erlin as their 27th player for the doubleheader with the Cubs. He joined the organization this past offseason on a Minor League contract.

Erlin appeared in two games for L.A. and now has pitched at the Major League level over parts of eight seasons. It’s possible Erlin remains with the Dodgers organization if he goes unclaimed on waivers.

However, that would also entail the 31-year-old accepting a Minor League assignment rather than electing for free agency.

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