The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to avoid being swept by the Miami Marlins thanks to a fantastic performance from Ryan Pepiot and an offensive outburst following a slow start to September.
Thursday’s start day was supposed to be for Julio Urías, but he was placed on administrative leave by MLB after he was arrested on suspected felony domestic violence, which left the Dodgers in need of another option.
The Dodgers turned to Pepiot, who was recalled to fill the open roster spot and make the start. The right-hander once again delivered, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning.
Pepiot said he was unaware of his perfection until the midway point of the game when his teammates also began to notice and did their best to not take him out of rhythm, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“It was like the fifth inning,” Pepiot said of realizing he had a perfect game going. “When I finished the fifth, no one was talking to me anymore. Then I looked up and saw the zero. Everyone was sliding by me, and then no one would sit anywhere near me.”
Pepiot ended up losing the perfect game and no-hitter with two outs in the seventh inning when Josh Bell singled on a ground ball up the middle, ending the streak of 20 straight hitters retired to begin the game. Pepiot then came back to strike out Jazz Chisholm Jr. to end the inning.
That wound up being Pepiot’s final inning of work as Caleb Ferguson took over in the eighth. The 26-year-old finished his outing with seven innings pitched, one hit allowed, no runs and no walks with three strikeouts while picking up the victory.
Pepiot now owns a 0.86 ERA and 0.52 WHIP across 21 innings with 17 strikeouts over four starts. He is 5-0 in his career with a 2.51 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 57.1 innings while striking out 59 hitters.
The key to Pepiot’s breakout has been a change in pitch selection, utilizing his changeup more often to left-handed hitters and his slider more often to right-handed hitters, while also significantly cutting his walks.
With Urías likely out for the rest of the season, Pepiot has a good chance to stick in the rotation and continue proving his talent, which could potentially earn him a postseason start.
Ryan Pepiot utilizing improved changeup
While coming up through the Minor Leagues, Pepiot relied on his changeup to dominate hitters. It was so effective that 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 recently 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.
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