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Nick Tepesch to start Friday for Dodgers in Pittsburgh

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Nick Tepesch had a 2.00 ERA and won all three starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Nick Tepesch had a 2.00 ERA and won all three starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Photo: Oklahoma City Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers said on Thursday they will purchase the contract of Nick Tepesch from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday to start the series opener against the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Manager Dave Roberts said after Wednesday's game that the club still hadn't decided the starter for Friday, almost always code for "we have to make a roster move that we aren't ready to announce yet."

The only option on the active roster to start Friday after Thursday's off day, outside of an always-icky bullpen game, was Kenta Maeda, who would be on regular rest after last starting on Sunday. But if Maeda was starting Friday, they would have announced it by now.

Tepesch, signed to a minor league contract on June 6 after he opted out of his minor league deal with the Rangers, takes the rotation slot of Mike Bolsinger, who was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday after a six-start stint in the majors.

With Thursday's off day, the Dodgers had the option of skipping this slot one time through the rotation, but with 17 straight days starting Friday on the schedule this move gives the starters an extra day of rest.

Tepesch, 27, has a 2.00 ERA with Oklahoma City, winning all three starts with 17 strikeouts and just three walks in 18 innings, including eight strikeouts and no walks in eight strong innings in his last start, allowing just one run in New Orleans last Friday.

His start against the Pirates on Friday will be on six days rest.

Tepesch in 14 starts in Triple-A this season, including 11 with Round Rock, has a 3.66 ERA, with 48 strikeouts and 14 walks in 83⅔ innings. He missed all of 2015 with elbow inflammation and had to have surgery to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

In 2013-2014 with the Rangers, Tepesch pitched in 219 major league innings in 42 games, including 39 starts, with a 4.56 ERA, 132 strikeouts, 71 walks and 27 home runs allowed. He has allowed just six home runs in 14 starts in the Pacific Coast League this season.

The Dodgers will have to make room for Tepesch on both the 40-man and active rosters, which could mean a very short stay on the 40-man roster for new waiver claim Layne Somsen. But the most interesting move will be who gets removed from the active roster. The Dodgers will likely keep their eight-man bullpen, which means the full, six-man bench will have lasted all of two games.

Kiké Hernandez seems safe since he is the only backup shortstop on the active roster, so it will likely come down to Will Venable, the only left-handed bat on the bench, or Scott Van Slyke, who was used to pinch run but not to pinch hit on Wednesday night.

Tepesch used one option year, in 2014, so he has two option years remaining.

Here is the likely rotation and pitching matchups for the four-game series at PNC Park:

Friday, 4:05 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA, MLB Network)

Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, has a 3.50 ERA in his first three major league starts, though he allowed three home runs and four runs in just four innings in his last outing, on Sunday at Wrigley Field. The right-hander has 13 strikeouts and four walks in his 18 major league innings.

Tepesch last started in a major league game on Sept. 26, 2014.

Saturday, 4:15 p.m. (Fox)

This will be a lucrative start for Kenta Maeda, who will earn an extra $1 million for his 15th start of the season, one of a myriad of performance bonuses built into his eight-year contract. Maeda needs 8⅓ innings — which would be a season high — to reach 90 innings, a plateau that would earn him another $250,000.

It has been a Jekyll and Hyde season for Jeff Locke, who on one hand as eight quality starts in his 14 outings, including one shutout and two other scoreless starts, including no runs in 6⅔ innings with no walks on Monday against the Giants.

Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz and Ken Rosenthal are on the call for this national Fox game, which will be seen in these markets: Albuquerque, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Denver, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Sunday, 5:05 p.m. (ESPN)

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw leads the majors with 141 strikeouts on the season, and needs six more in this start to match Sandy Koufax (1965) for most strikeouts through 16 starts in a season in franchise history.

This would normally be old friend Juan Nicasio, but he is currently on the restricted list dealing with a personal issue, and isn't expected back in time to make this start. The Pirates haven't announced yet who will start on Sunday, but they did say Thursday, per MLB.com, that it won't be Gerrit Cole, who would be eligible to return from the disabled list for this game.

Monday, 9:35 a.m. (SportsNet LA, MLB Network)

With 106 pitches on May 20, Scott Kazmir had his fifth straight start throwing at least 100 pitches. But since then the left-hander has averaged 91 pitches in his last six starts, topping out at 97 on Tuesday against the Nationals.

For just the fourth time this season the Dodgers will face a pair of left-handed starting pitchers in the same series, with Francisco Liriano on the hill in the series final on Monday morning. It has been a rough year for Liriano after three seasons as a top-of-the-rotation starter for Pittsburgh. He has a 5.03 ERA on the season, including 6.34 in his last seven starts, with nine home runs allowed during that span to go with nearly has many walks (27) as strikeouts (35).