The Dodgers just finished their final game ahead of the 2023 season, losing to the Los Angeles Angels 13-5 in the traditional Freeway Series ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks coming into town for the weekend.
Dave Roberts put out a lineup pretty close to what the best version of the 2023 Dodgers are, especially against left-handers, with Trayce Thompson in center field, Chris Taylor in left. Despite the late blow-up, the Dodgers offense responded when the starters were playing, putting up five runs in the first five innings.
Ryan Pepiot’s disappointing tune-up outing
Pepiot was named the Dodgers’ fifth starter to open the season, taking the place of the injured Tony Gonsolin, but throughout this competition in spring training, and dating back to last season, Pepiot has struggled to take full advantage of this opportunity.
Tonight, against a full-strength Angels’ lineup, Pepiot struggled with his control, walking four batters over three and two-thirds, getting hit around for five earned runs, and giving up back-to-back homers to Hunter Renfroe and Luis Rengifo in the third inning.
In a nutshell, this outing outlines a summary of Pepiot in his short time in the majors, as the stuff still played up with five punch outs, but the right-hander simply can’t find the zone consistently enough with all of his pitches, primarily the fastball and changeup.
There’s an extra level of trust that this coaching staff and the front office have earned over the years in developing and churning out above-average production out of its pitching staff, but at this point, we must be open to the possibility that this fifth rotation spot may be a revolving door until the return of Gonsolin or Gavin Stone’s establishment as a big leaguer.
The big difference between Pepiot tonight, and his short stint in the majors last season was that this time around, he wasn’t able to minimize the damage with runners on base, which at this point, figures to be a common occurrence for the right-hander, until he can make adjustments, and that’s just a very difficult way to survive in the big leagues.
Lineup punishes a trending breakout pick in the American League
Reid Detmers has been one of the hot names in spring training, showing increased velocity, averaging 96 mph, when he sat at 93.5 last season, and also throwing a different slider, averaging 90.3 mph in comparison to 85.9 in 2022.
With all of this going for him, Detmers has been one of the trendier picks to be a breakout arm in 2023, and presented an interesting challenge as the Dodgers’ offense, got its final at bats ahead of Thursday’s home opener, and they were up to challenge.
There was no big inning early on, but getting multiple runners on in each of the first three frames, it was death by a thousand cuts, as Detmers wasn’t able to finish the third, surrendering a run in each inning he pitched.
Action-packed fifth inning
With neither starter showing effectiveness nor durability, both managers had to go to their ‘pen before the end of the fourth, and after one scoreless frame, the fifth inning came with a ton of action.
Trailing 5-3, the Dodgers tied up the score with a two-run single by Miguel Rojas.
However, the tied result was short-lived as the Angels came back with a three-spot against reliever Tayler Scott;
Small steps for Chris Taylor, and a significant improvement for the lineup
One of the big wild cards of this year’s offense is the volatility that Taylor has presented in the past calendar year, capped by a very frustrating spring training.
However, Taylor has shown small improvements at the plate, hitting well in the series against the Angels, including reaching base in three of four plate appearances on tonight’s game, with a hit, and a couple of walks.
Jimmy Nelson’s scoreless appearance, and first outing in nine days
Dave Roberts has already announced that Nelson will open the season on the injured list, but after nine days away from a game, the right-handed reliever came back to the mound with a scoreless appearance in the sixth inning, including a strikeout.
After Nelson left the mound, the floodgates opened as the Angels put up a four spot on Jake Pilarski, upping their lead to 12-5, and effectively putting the game away, but by that time, all the starters had left the field.
The Dodgers play their first real game of the year on Thursday night. Yes, opening day is a night game (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA) against the Diamondbacks, with Julio Urías getting the start against Arizona ace Zac Gallen.
Get your Dodgers opening day tickets through StubHub, to watch Urías make his first career opening day start.