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J.D. Martinez & Miguel Vargas homer, Ryan Pepiot leaves with side discomfort

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

In a battle of promising young pitchers, Ryan Pepiot fared better than his counterpart Hayden Wesneski, as the Dodger offense put up a crooked number on the Cubs’ pitching staff, en route to a 9-7 win this afternoon.

On an unfortunate note, Pepiot’s outing was ultimately cut short after three frames as the right-hander felt some minor discomfort, and Dave Roberts decided to err on the side of caution, removing him from the game.

The expectation, as reported, at least for now, is that this shouldn’t affect him moving forward.

Potential lineup keystones doing major damage

One of the well-covered areas for the Dodgers in 2023 is that complementary pieces, such as Miguel Vargas, who takes on an even bigger role with Gavin Lux out for the year, and J.D. Martinez brought in to replace franchise icon Justin Turner, will need to up their game, and help carry this offense at times.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman will provide the stability, but beyond them, every other man needs to take a step forward, and it was very encouraging to see both Martinez and Vargas doing major damage with the bat today.

Wesneski got the Dodgers in order for the first couple of innings, tacking on three punchouts, and even managed to pitch his way out of a jam, by striking out James Outman with a couple of runners on, after Jason Heyward followed a Patrick Mazeika walk with the first hit of the game for the Dodgers.

However, in the fourth inning, the floodgates opened, as Trayce Thompson and Max Muncy reached base via walk and single, which preceded the three-run bomb on a line drive to center-field by Martinez, putting the Dodgers in front, three to one.

Wesneski would only last a couple more batters as he was probably nearing the end of his day regardless, and after a Vargas single, David Ross came in with Max Bain, who also got rocked, allowing another three runs to cross the plate, capped off by a Max Muncy bases-loaded walk.

Relieving Bain, came in Peyton Remy, and still in the same inning in which he smashed that three-run homer, Martinez came back to bat once more, and tacked on a pair of RBI, pushing his tally on the day to five, with a bases-loaded double.

Two pitching changes later, the Cubs managed to get out of the inning, but with an eight-to-one deficit.

Pepiot gets solid results, but struggles with command

Before experiencing discomfort, one could look at Pepiot’s outing as a glass half full, half empty kind of game.

The biggest thing to watch out for as Pepiot continues in this battle for the fifth rotation spot is his ability to remain effective and find the strike zone consistently. No matter how good his changeup is, if Pepiot doesn’t improve on the 43.6-percent strike rate he had on that pitch in the majors last year, he’s not going to find consistency.

Three innings with two hits, one run, and four strikeouts is a very good line, but the right-hander still walked two batters, one of them on four non-competitive pitches, and that’s been his primary issue.

Cubs knock around the inning-eaters of spring for the Dodgers

Shortly after Pepiot’s day was done, the Dodgers built a very large lead, going as far up as 8-1, but Dave Roberts went to names such as Keegan Curtis, Tayler Scott, and Rubby De La Rosa, the latter two, who allowed three and four runs, respectively, in the sixth, and seventh inning.

Phil Bickford came in and shut the door in the eighth, and Tyler Cyr wrapped up a clean ninth inning.

Up next

The Dodgers are back at Camelback Ranch to play the White Sox on Saturday (1:05 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Chicago playing the role of home team. Michael Grove starts for Los Angeles.