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Ryan Pepiot joins Dodgers taxi squad in Pittsburgh

Dodgers haven’t yet named a starting pitcher for Wednesday

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Seattle Mariners Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Pepiot is joining the Dodgers for their series in Pittsburgh, though the team hasn’t yet officially committed to one of their top pitching prospects making his major league debut just yet.

“It just leaves the option open. We’re not going to commit to it, but getting him here in town puts us in a position if we choose to,” Dave Roberts told reporters Monday at PNC Park, per SportsNet LA. “We still have an opportunity to see how the next couple of nights go.”

Last Friday’s rainout at Wrigley Field pushed back Tyler Anderson’s start to Saturday, and necessitated the Dodgers’ need to fill innings on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, since both Anderson and Clayton Kershaw would be on only three days rest.

Pepiot last pitched Friday for Triple-A Oklahoma City, striking out seven in 4⅔ innings, allowing two runs against the Albuquerque Isotopes. He’d be on four days rest on Wednesday.

Roberts also told reporters in Pittsburgh that Robbie Erlin is an option to pitch on Wednesday. The left-hander pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close out Sunday’s blowout win, throwing 22 pitches.

Pepiot is the club’s second-highest-rated pitching prospect, behind Bobby Miller, and was off to a hot start in Triple-A. The right-hander has a 2.05 ERA in six starts with 36 strikeouts (a 33-percent strikeout rate) and 12 walks in 26⅓ innings. Pepiot was named Pacific Coast League pitcher of the month for April.

The Dodgers drafted Pepiot in the third round out of Butler in 2019. Before this season, Pepiot was ranked the No. 59 prospect in baseball by Kiley McDaniel at ESPN, and 99th at Baseball America.

Pepiot would need to be added to the 40-man roster, for which the Dodgers have space at the moment with both David Price and Mitch White on the COVID-related injured list. They can create more flexibility when needed by transferring one or both of Blake Treinen and Victor González on the 60-day injured list, since both pitchers are expected to be out until after the All-Star break.

The Dodgers are in the first week of a stretch of 31 games in 30 days, and will likely use spot starts now and then to give the rotation extra rest. They have another doubleheader next Tuesday at home against the Diamondbacks, which could create an opportunity for roster maneuvering. Pepiot, or whomever starts Wednesday, could be optioned after that start and still return within 10 days for next Tuesday’s doubleheader as a 27th player.

But such machinations are for later. Let’s see what happens on Wednesday first.