Dodgers News: Ryan Pepiot Using Spring Training Start Against Padres As ‘Confidence Booster’

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Gavin Lux’s torn ACL in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ third Spring Training game of the year was the day’s focus, but Ryan Pepiot delivered some positives into a primarily negative afternoon.

Pepiot made his first start of the Cactus League by facing a San Diego Padres lineup that featured Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado and Nelson Cruz at the top of their order.

The right-hander was put into some trouble early when Bogaerts reached on an error and David Dahl singled, but Pepiot responded by striking out Machado, getting Cruz to fly out and Matt Carpenter to pop out.

“Yeah, definitely a confidence booster,” Pepiot said of his start. “Build off that one, go to the next. Definitely nice to have some success.”

Arguably the most important part of Pepiot’s outing was the zero walks issued, which was a problem he struggled with last season. He only pitched one inning, but after walking nearly seven batters per nine last season in his time with the Dodgers, it was a noteworthy step in the right direction.

“Felt like I was in around the zone, and even I felt like some of the balls that I did throw, they weren’t non-competitive,” Pepiot said. “They were actually somebody had to take kind of a little glance at it.”

Aside from the increased strike-throwing, Pepiot is regaining the feel for his changeup, which many scouts considered to be the best one in the Minor Leagues last season. That was a pitch he struggled to control in his time at the Major League level.

The changeup has been considered by many as an 80-grade on the 20-80 scouting scale, but Pepiot has not yet been able to show it off much against big league hitters. “It feels better,” Pepiot said.

“Landing it for a strike, throwing a strike versus lefties and it’s not running all the way off the plate for me. Some good swing and miss on Machado and Cruz, so definitely feels like getting close back to where it was.”

Ryan Pepiot working on developing slider

Pepiot also worked on developing his slider by getting it more consistent with more movement, which he hopes will lead to more swing-and-miss ability from it or getting batters to make weak contact on it.

The former prospect said it was “definitely nice” to get some of the results he was looking for when Bogaerts hit a ground ball on it.

If both the changeup and slider are working together this season, Pepiot could prove to be a valuable pitcher for the Dodgers and go deeper into games than he was able to last year.

“Just being able to manipulate pitches, throw different things,” Pepiot said about the pitch mix. “And so second, third time through the lineup, I have a couple of wrinkles I can throw at them.”

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