Dodgers Prospect Watch: How Far Away Is Ryan Pepiot?

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While there’s no doubt Max Scherzer improves the starting pitching rotation of the Los Angeles Dodgers, there are still several questions remaining as the month of August kicks into full gear.

Manager Dave Roberts said at the weekend that starter Clayton Kershaw is probably out until September, which might give us a bit of hope he could return for a prospective playoff run. Tony Gonsolin has not even picked up a baseball since being shut down with a shoulder issue on July 31, suggesting the worst.

As it stands, the Los Angeles rotation consists of Scherzer, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and David Price, along with whomever Roberts appoints as the opener for the fifth game. In a perfect world, a healthy Kershaw would join Scherzer and Buehler in a trio for a short playoff series, but there’s still a ton of work to do before the Dodgers even get to that point.

The newly signed Cole Hamels threw one inning in a simulated session on Saturday, but the feeling is the veteran probably won’t even be close to a major league start until he can comfortably get five innings under his belt. Aside from one outing with the Braves last year, it’s essentially been two years since Hamels has contributed consistently in the majors.

Another newcomer, 32-year-old southpaw Danny Duffy, could be a more realistic option, but there’s no estimate when he’ll join the team, as he’s still recovering from a flexor strain in his elbow. If the team intends on using Duffy as a starter, it could take longer to stretch him out, although using the 6-foot-3 Goleta native as an opener or a swing man is certainly on the table.

“I feel like this last week I turned the corner a little bit physically,” Duffy said recently. “I’ve been told anywhere from late August to early September, depending on the role, which I’m unaware of so far.”

The Dodgers signed 30-year-old righty Nick Tropeano to a minor league deal last week, but he still has yet to make an appearance. Triple-A Oklahoma City has Tropeano listed on its active roster.

Perhaps a better choice is 23-year-old Ryan Pepiot, especially if the bullpen continues to be overused. The team trusts Scherzer and Buehler to eat a reasonable number of innings, but Urias lasted just an even five innings in Saturday’s victory, while Price went 5-1/3 frames in the loss on Friday.

Regardless, Pepiot made his last start for Oklahoma City Monday and is will throw again against Albuquerque on Sunday. Across two levels of the farm this year, the Indianapolis native is 2-2 with a 2.92 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, an impressive .147 BAA and 88 strikeouts over 14 starts and 64-2/3 innings.

According to MLB Pipeline, Pepiot is the fifth best prospect in the system and the second-best pitching prospect behind 22-year-old righty Bobby Miller.

MLB Pipeline says Pepiot’s changeup “is a legitimate weapon that he sells with fastball arm speed, only to have it arrive at the plate in the low 80s with a ton of fade. After working at 91-94 MPH and touching 96 with high spin rates on his fastball in 2019, he sat at 93-96 with increased vertical movement in shorter stints last year. His low-80s slider got sharper, and he also used his upper-70s curveball to get early-count strikes.”

Pepiot is not on the organization’s 40-man roster, but when considering how fluid it’s been lately, it shouldn’t be too difficult finding him a spot, especially if Gonsolin ends up on the 60-day injured list.

42 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: How Far Away Is Ryan Pepiot?

  1. Pepiot might get a look in September, not before. And that will depend on the needs of the big club at the time. With only 2 callups allowed, they might need the roster space used somewhere else.

    1. With CK and Duffy likely not available for another three weeks and Price lucky to go 5 when he starts, I think we might very well see Pepiot sooner than later. Otherwise they continue to burn through their bullpen guys to the point where they’ll be so worn out by September that they’ll be useless for the playoffs.

      The front office knows best how prepared Pepiot is to be up here, both from a physical and a mental point of view. If he’s a go on both counts, I think his next start after today could be with the big club.

      1. Well he strikes out people and doesn’t walk too many.
        A 24 year old lefty.
        Who got lopped off the roster to make room?

      2. I guess the only way Cleavinger would have an effect on the 40-man is if he was immediately put on the 60 day IL. Of course, that might be exactly what they do since obliques rarely get better in a hurry.

      3. As far as I can tell he wasn’t on the 40-man prior to today, so unless Cleavinger is now on the 60-day IL, we’ll be waving good-bye to someone.

      4. OK, I found the answer. Andrew has spent so much money on payroll this year in an effort to improve the game for the fans, that Manfred has given him permission to have 41 players on the 40 man roster.

      5. Good question. Might depend on how the rehab goes.
        It may come down to Lux vs. McKinney but with Mookie’s hip acting up that might give McKinney the advantage.

      6. MLBTR saying there was an open spot on the 40-man. I counted, but must have counted wrong. I always did have a hard time counting that high.

  2. Big fan of Pepiot. He has good velocity, effective secondary pitches and can get swing and misses with two different change ups one bringing the fade. Dodgers need someone to effectively fill the #5 spot to keep from constantly overusing the bullpen. The Dodgers are 4 behind. They can’t continue to have bullpen games to give away a game.

      1. That’s always disturbing to me. At his age and as desperate as we are for pitchers alarm bells are ringing.. got to be better than the long, long string of one and done we’ve seen this year.

  3. Bruihl has a nice debut, Quack got into a little trouble, but a nice win over all. Just keep on winning and do not worry about the Giants.

      1. Probably not, but your poster boy here, Pepiot is getting hammered at Alb. Gives up 2 triples and 2 HR’s and 5 runs in the second inning. Luckily OKC scored 8 in the top of the 2nd.

      2. He kind of Quacked up but Bruihi looked good. Strange as Quacky has the experience and has been very good at OKC. Bruihi has a good pitch selection.

      3. Hoping Knebel can survive the rest of the year. The Dodgers have not had good luck with guys coming off the IL. They all pitch a few games and go back on the IL. Knebel could be a difference-maker. But this team needs to bring up someone to throw in the #5 slot so the bullpen doesn’t get overused.

      1. He ended up going 4 in a 15-10 slugfest. Gave up 5 on 8 hits and one walk. Struck out 3. Bullpen gave up 5. Lux went 0-3 with a walk and a run scored. McKinstry hit a HR late in the game.

      2. The scouts believe Pepiot has the ability and pitch selection to be a major leaguer. It was reported the Dodgers would not add Pepiot or Jackson to the trade with the Nats.
        My concern with pitchers especially rookies is how is their control? Can they throw strikes and command the strike zone? A good example presently is Vesia, initially, he was not throwing strikes and got himself into trouble. Recently he is throwing strikes and controlling the strike zone. Hershiser talked about on the broadcast how especially rookie pitchers have to learn to trust their stuff or talent and throw it up there. He said it is a tough thing to learn. Sometimes it’s not about trying to trick the hitter it’s about making him try to beat you with your best pitch. Pepiot wowed them last year at the AZ Camp. There is no reason to think he has regressed. I wish they would bring him up unless they believe Duffy will be available soon. The short inning starts by Price and the bullpen games are killing the bullpen.

      3. Price went into the 6th inning his last start. And that is what they expected. I do not want to see a kid come up and get whacked around in a close pennant race. Sorry, give me the vets. They know they are going to be short handed until September. That is when Duffy will be available and Hamels too. I care less what motor mouth Hershiser says. He talks just to hear his own voice. We all know what they need to do, it is what they are capable of that count’s. Pepiot wowing in spring does not mean doo doo in a pennant race. And he got lit up like a Christmas tree last night by AAA hitters. How do you think he is going to fare his first time out against a Padres or Giants lineup???? Never ever do I bring up a kid like him in the middle of a race like this one. Wait til next year when the pitching staff will be entirely new.

  4. Oh, do not blame the bullpen woes on Price or Gonsolin and short starts. The pen did pretty good in those games, and they have actually won more of the opener type games than they lost. And the pen out there today, is not the pen that was there a week ago.

    1. So far the Dodgers agree with you and are not bringing up Peopiot or Jackson. They certainly know more than any of us on conditions of their pitchers both active and on IL and the Farm Guys. Yes, Price went to 6 last start but before that, he has not and Gonsolin’s starts did not average more than 4. The bullpen now I believe is stabilizing with new additions Bickford, Graterol (back from IL), Brihi (new we shall see), Gonzalez, Vesia, Kelly, Treinen, and Jansen. Reportedly Knebel will be back soon. So you are saying the short starts and bullpen games did not stress the bullpen? I think you might be in the minority on that opinion.
      Watching Bickford, Vesia, and Bruihi recently I have been impressed with their ability to throw effective strikes. Graterol has developed his secondary pitches so guys cannot sit on the 100 mph sinker. Graterol’s sliders to Ohtani were beautiful. As he got to 102 it’s humorous that his 85 mph slider is almost a change at 17 mph slower than his fastest pitch.

      1. Until last year, Gonzalez’ walks to strike out ratio was always suspect. His minor league ratio (since he hadn’t yet been in the majors) was about 2.7 k’s per bb. Last year (in the majors) that ratio became a ridiculous 11.5 to 1. This year it’s back below 2 to 1. That is not acceptable. He’s had his share of injuries which may have contributed to his lack of control this year, but it’s also possible that last year was an aberration and we won’t be able to count on him going forward.

      2. Gonzalez has not been effective. If they bring up Knebel he might be the one to go back to OKC. He has had control issues this year which for a reliever that is a recipe for failure. I know Nunez is on Covid protocols I wonder if he stays up. He was certainly effective in the minors. Gonzalez has been in the IL I wonder if he is another guy with lingering issues. They still have Reks and McKinney on the roster although McKinney is out of options. I wonder with the addition of Trea Turner if they bring back Lux as his at-bats would take away from players who have been more effective than him. Wouldn’t it be better for Lux to figure out how to hit curveballs and left-handed pitching at OKC with little pressure?

      3. I am not saying they did not tax the pen, I am saying that there have been so many changes in the pen, that the same guys are not out there every week. You have to remember, they just started building Price up about 4 starts ago, so it is not his fault he is not going deep into games. His start prior to the last one, he went 4.1 in his loss to the Giants. Just look how many relievers this team has used since the beginning of the season, and so far, if you check their usage, none is being used more than they have at other points in their careers. Here is a list of the pitchers used this season, White, Uceta, Santana, waived, Reed, waived, Ramirez, sent to minors. Quackenbush, Nunez, Kickham, Jones, released, Gray, traded, Bruihl, Alexander, Vesia, Knebel, Nelson, out for the year, Jansen, Bickford, Graterol, Kelly, Treinen, Gonsolin, Price, Cleavinger, Gonzalez, Those are guys who have pitched in relief. Gonzalez who has appeared in 42 games, has only pitched 33 innings. That is not being overused. Jansen, who has been in 44 games has pitched in 43.1 innings, again, that is not overuse. Both Gonsolin and Price had to be built up slowly after starting the year in relief. So him not getting into the 6th until his 4th start makes perfect sense. Same time it would be in spring. So the overworked bullpen theory is pure speculation. Treinen, who has pitched in 47 games and has exactly 47 innings pitched, is the reliever who has been most used, and it has not affected his performance at all. He is one of the more reliable pitchers they have.

  5. Knebel is set to come off of the IL tomorrow. Today they transferred Kersh and Duffy to the 60 day IL. Kersh is available on Sept 6th and Duffy on the 18th. They also claimed a catcher from the Angels and a pitcher from the Orioles.

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