Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Ryan Pepiot was recalled by the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to their doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks to start the first game and make his Dodger Stadium debut.
In his MLB debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dodgers’ No. 2 pitching prospect was only able to complete three innings due to a high pitch count with five walks and a hit by pitch. Pepiot still turned in scoreless work, but there was traffic on the bases throughout his start.
Pepiot attributed the lack of command to the nerves from making his debut and some things he needed to work on mechanically. Although Pepiot walked the first two hitters he faced to open the game on Tuesday, he quickly settled in with two strikeouts and pitched two scoreless innings.
“Definitely a little less nerves,” Pepiot said. “Still a little nervous because it’s my first time pitching here with fans, but after the first couple guys, definitely felt like I settled down a lot quicker than I did in Pittsburgh last week.”
While Pepiot made it to the Majors backed by an 80-grade changeup that is already among the best in all levels of baseball, he relied on a slider to help regain some of his command after the shaky start.
Pepiot ended up throwing 11 sliders in the game after only using the pitch four times during his debut.
“I was kind of pushing everything arm-side, so one thing I try to do to get back in the zone is just throw sliders to get the feel of throwing the ball out in front of myself,” Pepiot explained. “So that definitely helped being in the zone more and having more competitive pitches.”
Command has always been Pepiot’s biggest question mark throughout the Minor Leagues, and it was always the thing that has held him back from being considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
But after the start, the right-hander once again reiterated his command problems were a mix of the nerves and some mechanical adjustments he needs to make.
“Combination. Definitely was a little bit of nerves and jitters,” Pepiot said. “Just excited to be out there. But just slowing myself down and being able to get the ball out in front of myself to be in the zone more definitely helps.”
Although his command wasn’t a strong suit, the 24-year-old’s only real blemish came in the third inning with a two-out walk. That was followed with an RBI single from Pavin Smith and a two-run home run from Christian Walker to put Arizona up 3-0 early in the game.
“Two-out walk, never want to do that,” Pepiot said. “And then would love the 0-2 pitch to Pavin Smith back, for sure. Threw a good slider the pitch before and then just left one 0-2 right over the plate to him.
“The home run, I let a fastball leak over more of the middle of the plate. It wasn’t high enough to get above the bat. Those two pitches I would love to have back, but it’s a learning experience.
“Being able to look back at those and see what I could have done better is something I talked to the guys in the dugout and clubhouse about already.”
Pepiot finished his day throwing four innings, allowing three runs on two hits, walking three and striking out five.
Pepiot missed part of Dodgers three-home run sixth inning
The Dodgers were able to come back and win thanks to a three-home run sixth inning that tied the game, put them ahead, and then extended the lead. However, Pepiot was only able to see part of that.
“I was in the training room for half of it, so I was cheering inside and then I came out during some of it as well,” he said.
While Pepiot is still working on fixing his command issues and trying to establish himself as an important pitcher on the club, he has enjoyed seeing the star-studded roster the Dodgers run out on the field.
“It’s special to be able to be here on this team and to help the club as much as I can,” Pepiot said. “And then to be there to watch and witness the superstars we have on this team do what they did, it’s a lot of fun to watch and a lot of fun to just be there in the dugout in person.”
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