Pepiot lands Dodgers' fifth starter role

Jackson to make Opening Day roster as long man

March 24th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers’ starting rotation to start 2023 is set.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Friday that right-hander edged out and will enter the season as the fifth starter. Pepiot joins -- who will make his first Opening Day start on March 30 -- , and in the team’s rotation.

With starting the season on the 15-day injured list with a left ankle sprain, the Dodgers had an unexpected opening. The two logical options were Pepiot and Grove, two solid choices. In the end, Pepiot’s improved command and solid spring gave him the first crack at making an impact this season.

“They both earned that opportunity. Probably the toughest decision we had to think through,” Roberts said. “I guess, to put it more simply, we just felt Ryan outperformed Michael this spring. … We just felt it was the right decision at this point in time.” 

In 2022, Pepiot went 3-0 with a 3.47 ERA in nine appearances (seven starts), but he struggled with command. The Dodgers' No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline focused on throwing more strikes this offseason and reworked his trademark changeup after losing some feel for the pitch last season. This spring, Pepiot has struck out 19 over 13 2/3 innings and walked just five across five starts.

“He’s made huge strides,” Roberts said. “And I say that with the mechanics. The delivery is a lot more consistent. There just seems to be more clarity and things have slowed down for him. We just feel like his stuff plays at the Major League level.”

With Pepiot in the rotation, Roberts said the starting pitching order for the first five games of the season is tentatively set. Urías will start the season opener at Dodger Stadium vs. the D-backs, followed by May in the second game and Kershaw in the third game. Syndergaard and Pepiot will round things out in a two-game set vs. the Rockies.

Roberts said the decision to start May in the second game and not Kershaw was made solely because the team wanted to split up the lefties atop the rotation. Kershaw will make his final start of the spring on Sunday against the Angels at Dodger Stadium.

also won a spot on the Opening Day roster, according to Roberts. Jackson will serve as a multi-inning reliever, giving the Dodgers insurance as the starters continue to build up early in the season.

Jackson had a solid spring for the Dodgers, posting a 1.17 ERA and striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander struggled in the Minors last season, but posted a 1.86 ERA in four appearances with the Dodgers. 

“To have a guy that can give you 75 pitches is really meaningful,” Roberts said. “Andre has earned the opportunity to be the length guy on our roster.”