Stop me if you have heard this one. A young Dodgers pitcher with amazing stuff cannot seem to get any sort of depth in games because he keeps walking too many people. The Dodgers’ fanbase shows trepidation with this young pitcher going forward, especially whether he will earn a rotation spot in the coming year.
And that pitcher’s name...was Anthony “Tony” D. Gonsolin...in 2021. Like Tony Gonsolin, Ryan Michael Pepiot had a season that should feel familiar to you. Like Tony Gonsolin, Ryan Pepiot had his first start of the year, his major league debut, in Pittsburgh.
In fact, if you compare Gonsolin’s 2021 to Pepiot’s 2022, you will more than a few similarities. Per Baseball-Reference:
- Pepiot (2022): 3-0, Appeared in nine games (started seven), pitched 36⅓ innings, allowed 26 hits, 15 runs (14 earned), resulting in a 3.47 ERA. He gave up 6 home runs, walked 27, and struck out 42
- Gonsolin (2021): 4-1, Appeared in 15 games (started 13), pitched 55⅔ innings, allowed 41 hits, 20 runs, resulting in a 3.23 ERA. He gave up 8 home runs, walked 34, and struck out 65
Pepiot started his year in Triple-A Oklahoma City and bounced back and forth between there and the big league club, using up his maximum five options throughout the year.
Where Pepiot was maddeningly inconsistent with the big league club, Pepiot was quite effective at Triple-A. He went 9-1, appearing in 19 games (with 17 starts), pitching 91⅓ innings, allowing 62 hits, 27 runs (26 earned), resulting in a 2.56 ERA. He gave up 10 home runs, walked 36, and struck out 114.
Whereas I was present for Gonsolin’s first start of 2021 (also in Pittsburgh), I was absent for Pepiot’s. In fact, I was only present for a single #PepiotDay of the year: August 16 in Milwaukee with my mother.
Pepiot, like 2021 Gonsolin, suffered from a similar fault: not aggressively going after hitters enough and getting into trouble through an excess of walks. On that particular start in Milwaukee, Pepiot threw 91 pitches to go 4⅔ innings. He only gave up three hits, two of which were home runs.
One of those home runs was to Christian Yelich, who was mired in a homerless streak since July 2 and was hitless in his last 26 at-bats. Yelich hit one 451 feet with an exit velocity of about 112 mph. My mother probably had the best line of the night after Yelich’s bomb: “That just didn’t sound right.” It went into the upper part of the second deck, which is where I was sitting last year in one of life’s little ironies.
While Pepiot struck out six, he ultimately walked five in his short outing, including back-to-back walks after the bomb to Yelich. Oddly enough, Reyes Moronta was called in to restore order, which he did by going 1⅓ perfect innings. Baseball.
Ultimately, on that night, Pepiot did just enough to allow Milwaukee to take a lead and keep the Dodgers on their back foot, requiring game-saving heroics from Chris Taylor in the tenth inning, necessitated by Alex Vesia having an off-night. The Dodgers took their first lead of the game in the eleventh, which lasted two outs in the eleventh when Craig Kimbrel allowed the Brewers to walk off.
Pepiot’s statistics with the Triple-A club indicate that he has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, apart from keeping the home run totals down. In order to stick at the major league level, Pepiot needs to learn to trust his stuff and attack the strike zone, just like Gonsolin did.
Ultimately, how far Pepiot goes will determine whether he takes that next step in his development like Gonsolin did going into the 2022 season. Suggesting that Pepiot will mimic Gonsolin’s development going into next year is wildly unrealistic. However, even with limited exposure to seeing Pepiot’s stuff live, the main takeaway is how electric it was. If he could harness it, the sky is the limit.
Stats: 3-0, 3.47 ERA, 5.42 FIP, 4.31 xERA, 36⅓, 27 BB, 42 K w/Dodgers
Game of the year
While wearing No. 47 with the big league club, on August 21 against the Marlins at home, Pepiot went six innings, allowing four hits (one home runs), two runs, with two walks and seven strikeouts for his second major league win. He lasted 97 pitches and went as deep as he did in any major league game that year. Also, this night was the night that the Dodgers dropped a six-spot on NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara.
Pepiot retains his rookie status with 22 days of service time. He is currently on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster and has two option years remaining.