Dodgers Pirates Game One Preview

Mar 6, 2015; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training baseball game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 6, 2015; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training baseball game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dodgers look to continue their hot streak with a road series in Pittsburgh.

It’s a bit early, but things are fun in Dodgerland right now. They’ve had some wild wins of late and they’re finally beginning to play better baseball. The Dodgers are getting healthier and looking closer to the team we all expected. Unfortunately, the Giants are playing like the best team in baseball right now, so the Dodgers are still six games back in the West.

The Dodgers had a very successful homestand, winning six of seven against the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals. Four of those wins were by one run, so they weren’t winning in super convincing fashion, but these are the games that the Dodgers were dropping in April and May.

Mike Bolsinger started the Dodgers’ win on Saturday against Milwaukee, but the Dodgers won late despite Bolsinger’s efforts. He allowed nine hits and five runs in 2.2 innings, but the Dodgers exploded for six in the third and two in the sixth to take the 10-6 win. Bolsinger was optioned the next day for Carlos Frias, who didn’t appear in a game before being sent down for Yasiel Puig on Tuesday. This left the fifth starter spot open, and while the Dodgers could have used the off day yesterday in lieu of the fifth spot, they opted to give everyone an extra day of rest and call up Nick Tepesch for today’s start in Pittsburgh.

The 27-year-old Tepesch was unceremoniously signed by the Dodgers about three weeks ago. Bolsinger and Frias weren’t options to start since they have to remain in the minors for 10 days unless replacing someone on the DL. Zach Lee was traded, Frankie Montas is hurt again and Jharel Cotton and Brock Stewart were both passed on. The Dodgers don’t need to worry about team control with Tepesch, as his clock started in 2013. Tepesch started 39 games for the Texas Rangers in 2013 and 2014 and had a 4.56 ERA in 219 innings. He’s not much of a strikeout pitcher, but limits walks decently and could give the Dodgers five or six innings of three run ball, which is what you want out of a spot starter.

As is the case with most teams’ fifth starters, the Dodgers will have to score more than a few runs to get a win. They will try to do that against Jameson Taillon, who Pittsburgh drafted out of high school with the second overall pick in 2010. He is the Pirates’ fourth best prospect on MLB and number 48 overall, with a lethal high velo fastball/+curveball combo. Taillon, much like Julio Urias, has been thrown into the fire early. He’s made three starts in his major league career, two against the New York Mets and one against the Chicago Cubs. He threw eight innings of two-hit ball in New York, but has allowed seven runs in 10 innings in his other two starts. The potential is there, and the Pirates could have a future rotation led by Gerrit Cole, Taillon and top-10 prospect Tyler Glasnow, so what has been an iffy rotation could become a strength in the future.

Tepesch takes the roster spot of Will Venable, who was designated for assignment. Venable had one hit as a Dodger, but the Dodgers were 8-1 in his tenure, which will surely go down as one of the best eras in Dodger history.

Trayce Thompson sits again as Howie Kendrick gets the start in left field. They’ll probably rotate against righties and throw Scott Van Slyke into the rotation against lefties.

The bad news keep on coming, as Montas won’t be around for a while.

“Brutal luck for them on this one” is the odd-on favorite to be the Dodgers’ 2016 season motto. McCullough’s timetable puts Montas back, at worst, right around when the 25-man roster expands. It’s a creative way to keep his innings down, but Montas could have been a decent jolt to the rotation and a potentially huge jolt to an already-solid bullpen. The Dodgers say there’s no timetable for his return.

First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PST and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.