Ryan Pepiot's offseason adjustments could sneak him into Dodgers' rotation
New season, new Ryan Pepiot. And considering his first MLB action wasn't bad at all (3.47 ERA across 36.1 innings), the Los Angeles Dodgers could be in for a treat in 2023 after the right-hander made some crucial offseason adjustments.
The problem with Pepiot's 2022 debut was his control, which stemmed from his mechanics. His 5.42 FIP was heavily impacted by his 27 walks (6.7 BB/9), a concerning figure that resulted in an elevated 1.46 WHIP.
Turns out, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic (subscription required), the introduction of Pepiot's sweeping slider last spring drastically affected his delivery. That compromised the effectiveness of his changeup (his best offering) and was directly tied to his erratic results.
Fans don't want to speak too soon, but an offseason of reflecting and adjusting may already have the young right-hander back on track for the 2023 campaign. In his Spring Training debut on Monday, Pepiot fired a scoreless inning with efficiency.
He struck out one and allowed one hit on 21 total pitches, with 17 of those going for strikes. His delivery is clearly tighter and ... dare we say it looks like Pepiot packed on some muscle in the offseason?! He was already a big guy (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), but he looks even more lean this spring.
Ryan Pepiot's offseason adjustments could help him in Dodgers rotation race
The Dodgers love having their swingman out of the bullpen -- the guy who can be first in line to start games in the event of an injury or the guy who's first to come to the rescue when a starter gets knocked out early -- but Pepiot's ceiling is higher than that. He should be in the rotation, at least after the 2023 season.
Right now, it might not be easy for him to crack the starting five because the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Noah Syndergaard penciled in, but four of those five players come with injury concerns. Kershaw hasn't pitched a full, uninterrupted season since 2015. May and Syndergaard are recent recipients of Tommy John surgery. Gonsolin dealt with forearm issues at the tail end of 2022.
Regardless of the hierarchy, Pepiot spent a lot of time in the Dodgers' lab this offseason, which has him prepared for whatever's to come. If he's locating his fastball, dominating with his changeup, and has figured out the problems with his "sweeper" for his third offering, then he'll be in the best possible position to succeed.
He'll be competing with fellow young arms over the next year or so, too. Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone and Landon Knack continue to make their cases, so Pepiot getting ahead of his issues immediately after the conclusion of 2022 should give him enough cushion there as he fights for a regular role on a roster that figures to be in flux each of the next two seasons.