In a week in which every new day added a new question about the Dodgers playoff rotation, Ryan Pepiot looked like an answer again on Thursday night, retiring his first 20 batters faced in a 10-0 win over the Marlins, preventing a sweep in Miami.
Pepiot pounded the zone all night, throwing 60 of his 84 pitches for strikes. He only struck out three, but kept the Marlins off balance all night. Pepiot only allowed four hard-hit balls (with exit velocities of at least 95 mph), two of which came in the seventh inning.
Luis Arraez led off the seventh with a line drive that won’t be classified as “hard-hit,” but still was hit 91.6 mph and had an expected batting average of .950. Only, Amed Rosario made that zero with his second excellent defensive play of the night.
Two batters later, Josh Bell singled up the middle to spoil Pepiot’s perfect game attempt, the second time Pepiot has taken a perfect game into the seventh inning over the last four weeks. He also did so on August 13 in Tacoma for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Since then, Pepiot has only pitched in the majors, and he’s been great in his four outings, allowing just two runs in 21 innings, with 17 strikeouts. Perhaps most importantly, Pepiot has only two walks among his 75 batters faced, a marked improvement over his trouble with command last season.
This year, Pepiot has been very much in control, including in his seven scoreless, nearly-perfect innings on Thursday.
The Dodgers so far have sent Pepiot to the minors after each of his first three starts. The first two of those were procedural, as they strategically used Pepiot as the 27th player in a doubleheader twice. But he was optioned last week.
Now, given the state of the Dodgers rotation, in a week in which Julio Urías was arrested and placed on administrative leave, with Clayton Kershaw still dealing with left shoulder issues, and with Lance Lynn allowing home runs at a rapid rate, it’s more clear than ever that the Dodgers need Pepiot in the rotation.
After a rather sleepy offense in the first two games of the series, and the last five games overall, the Dodgers offense broke out in the middle innings against Miami’s bullpen. Two runs scored in the fifth and four more in the sixth, including RBI doubles in those frames by Kiké Hernández, Freddie Freeman, and Chris Taylor.
Freeman’s double was his 52nd of the season, tying Brooklyn’s Johnny Frederick (1929) for the most two-baggers in a season in franchise history.
Taylor had three hits, including a three-run home run in the eighth inning that put the Dodgers offense into double digits for the 17th time this season. Taylor in his last 18 games, dating back to August 11, is hitting .340/.450/.600.
Miguel Rojas led off the third inning with a triple to the gap in right center, his first three-batter of the season. Nine of Rojas’ 11 career triples have come at loanDepot Park (nee Marlins Park), where he played his home games for eight of his 10 major league seasons.
Rojas scored on a Will Smith single after the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out, but three runners were stranded in the inning after strikeouts by Rosario and Will Smith.
Rojas also singled twice on Thursday, and reached base five times in his first time back in Miami since getting traded back to the Dodgers in January. He and Rosario both made excellent defensive plays in the fourth inning, each ranging to their right to rob what were the closest things to hits against Pepiot to that point.
Miggy and Amed flashing the leather! pic.twitter.com/P0utNRWzKf— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 8, 2023
Home run: Chris Taylor (15)
WP — Ryan Pepiot (2-0): 7 IP, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts
LP — Braxton Garrett (8-6): 3⅔ IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
The Dodgers road trip moves on to the nation’s capital, where they will not be witness to a Stephen Straburg retirement ceremony after all. But there will be a three-game series against the Nationals beginning Friday night (4:05 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with Emmet Sheehan making his first major league start since July 29. Left-hander MacKenzie Gore starts for Washington.