Ryan Pepiot, Dodgers chase another win over Tigers

Field Level Media

September 19, 2023 at 8:27 am.

All it took right-hander Ryan Pepiot was five major league appearances this season to show the Los Angeles Dodgers he has value on a postseason roster.

Pepiot’s sixth appearance will come Tuesday when he faces the visiting Detroit Tigers at some point in the middle game of a three-game series. Pepiot might start or follow an opener.

Right-hander Miguel Diaz will be the opener for the Tigers, his second opener assignment in the last three games after pitching a scoreless first inning on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Pepiot was set for the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation, but an oblique injury ended that possibility. He didn’t take the mound again until July 14 for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Counting his minor league outings, Pepiot has pitched just 11 times this season for a total of 49 2/3 innings. However, he has shown enough to make Dodgers manager Dave Roberts take notice.

“His mix of high-velocity fastball, swing and miss in the strike zone, the changeup, the breaking ball off that, it plays,” said Roberts.

The Dodgers (92-57) appear set with a three-man rotation for the best-of-five National League Division Series with Clayton Kershaw, Lance Lynn and Bobby Miller. Pepiot (2-1, 2.00 ERA) sits just outside of that group, making his addition more likely if the team gets beyond that stage.

“It’s probably more the seven-game series because it’s potentially a longer series, but for me, he has equal value in a short series,” Roberts said of Pepiot, who has never faced the Tigers.

Detroit (70-80) moved closer to elimination from playoff contention on Monday thanks to an 8-3 defeat against Los Angeles in the series opener. J.D. Martinez hit two home runs for the Dodgers, while Jake Rogers went deep for the Tigers, his fourth homer in his past three games. He went deep twice on Sunday.

The Tigers still remain alive in the American League Central race, but just barely. They are 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins (79-72) with 12 to play.

Detroit’s better brand of baseball simply arrived too late. The Tigers entered Monday’s game with four consecutive wins and six in their previous eight games. They are 3-1 on a 10-game California trip.

“We’re playing hard until the end, which really matters,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We talk all the time around here that everything matters, every play matters. I’m trying to manage aggressively, I’m trying to give opportunities, and the players are responding.”

Rogers has taken the sense of urgency to heart, reaching 20 home runs with his blast off Lynn on Monday. He is the seventh Tigers player to reach 20 home runs while playing at least 60 percent of his games at catcher, joining a list that includes Bill Freehan, Eric Haase, Matt Nokes, Lance Parrish, Mickey Tettleton and Rudy York.

The downside for the Tigers on Monday was left-hander Eduardo Rodgriguez exited in the fourth inning due to a spasm around the area of his upper back and pitching shoulder. He will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

Rodriguez’s early departure left the Detroit bullpen to handle five innings, a blow to a team that was already planning for a bullpen day on Tuesday.