The Los Angeles Dodgers have a good thing going with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin in the starting rotation, but Andrew Heaney’s injury has made this an incomplete unit.
Perhaps fans will get a preview of the long-term future on Wednesday when top prospect Ryan Pepiot makes his MLB debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tyler Anderson has filled in to make three starts (and he’s been good!) but it’s fairly obvious the Dodgers want to use him as depth option/swing man. David Price, once again, has provided next to nothing, pitching in five games before hitting the COVID list (he has since not been activated). He hasn’t pitched since April 22. Heading into the season, he was behind schedule and wasn’t built up to handle a starter’s workload.
With Blake Treinen out until further notice, Price now apparently on the trade block, Heaney still a little while away from a return, and Victor Gonzalez out for a while after undergoing surgery, could Pepiot actually be here to stay assuming his outing goes well?
He has Major League-esque “stuff” and threw 101.1 innings last season, so it’s not like he’s being held back or struggling in his development. To kick off this year, he’s already logged 26.1 innings across six starts. He’s maintained a 1.14 WHIP and struck out 26 batters. If he can scale back on the walks (12), he might be ready to fully take the next step.
Could Dodgers top prospect Ryan Pepiot be here to stay in Los Angeles?
Pepiot sports a fastball, slider and changeup, and recently abandoned his curveball since it was the weakest offering. His changeup is devastating, which is his strikeout pitch. His fastball isn’t overwhelming (sits 94-96) and he’s had trouble locating it along with his slider, but when he puts everything together he’s without a doubt one of the best young arms in the minor leagues.
Seattle Mariners top prospect Julio Rodriguez, who is also one of the most promising young talents in all of baseball, cited Pepiot as the toughest pitcher he faced at last year’s Futures Game. That’s gotta mean something, right?
Pepiot can conceivably pitching another ~120 innings assuming the Dodgers want to continue to build him up as a starter (they do), so it’s not out of the question he sees more time in the bigs throughout the remainder of the season given his success at Triple-A Oklahoma City so far.
Is it crazy to think he could hang around, make starts until Heaney returns, then slide into the bullpen for multi-inning relief/spot starts in the event there’s another injury or somebody needs a rest?
If he lights up the Pirates on Wednesday, don’t be surprised if the Dodgers have a new member of the pitching staff in short order.