Ryan Pepiot made his 2023 season debut on Saturday as the 27th man for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ doubleheader against the Miami Marlins and turned in an impressive outing.
Pepiot was originally set to be part of the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, but he suffered an oblique injury late in Spring Training that gave Michael Grove an opportunity in the rotation as the fifth starter.
The initial hope was that Pepiot’s injury would be short term, but he ended up landing on the 60-day injured list and was not activated until Aug. 3, when he was also optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
“Originally we thought it was just the oblique, but it ended up being intercostal, up in the ribcage,” Pepiot revealed. “It was surprising, but it wasn’t really going away. Each day I’d be coming in and they’d ask if I feel any better and I’m like, ‘A little bit,’ but when I went to throw I just couldn’t do it. Then having some imaging done, we got more answers and it made sense.”
Pepiot first started to experience discomfort during his Cactus League start against the Seattle Mariners on March 22 while he was warming up for the game. Pepiot’s next outing was his final tuneup start against the Los Angeles Angels, when the injury really started to affect him.
“It just kind of lingered on through the Angels game,” Pepiot explained. “When I was warming up for the Angels game it was there the whole time. The first inning, adrenaline pushed me through, but after that every throw was pretty painful.”
He ended up pitching 3.2 innings, giving up five runs on six hits while walking four before opening the season on the 15-day IL.
While he was on the IL, Pepiot was focused on getting back as soon as he could, but also just taking it day by day even as the Dodgers pushed his timeline back multiple times.
“Going through that process was long and it took a lot longer than everyone anticipated. Just wanted to get better each day and when I got back out there just get as comfortable as I can as quickly as possible,” Pepiot said.
As Pepiot returned to the Dodgers on Saturday, he followed Caleb Ferguson in the first game to take on a bulk role. He went five innings, giving up one run on three hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
“It was just good to be back out there and take down some innings to keep the team in the ballgame,” Pepiot said.
This year, Pepiot no longer has to deal with the pressure that comes with being a rookie, and he feels more relaxed on the mound.
“I feel more confident having that experience under my belt of being able to go out there,” Pepiot said. “Just doing what I can to help the team win.”
Ryan Pepiot possibly replacing Tony Gonsolin
With Tony Gonsolin likely out for the season, the Dodgers need a fifth starter in their rotation, and Roberts indicated that Pepiot is among the possible options.
“If that opportunity arises, absolutely,” Pepiot said when asked if he wants to pitch every fifth day for the Dodgers. “Wherever I throw, wherever they tell me to go, I’ll be ready for it.”
Ryan Yarbrough and Gavin Stone are also options to start for the Dodgers, but Yarbrough provides a lot of value out of the bullpen and Stone has struggled this year.
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