Pepiot expects to make next start after taking liner off leg

May 5th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nothing would have spoiled the Rays’ joy of a weekend sweep against the Mets more than a serious injury to one of their best players.

Although the club experienced a scare with right-handed starter on Sunday, it appears to have been only a scare.

Pepiot departed the Rays’ 7-6 walk-off win in 10 innings against the Mets in the third after getting hit on his left leg by a 107.5 mph line drive off the bat of outfielder Starling Marte. He was diagnosed with a lower left leg contusion and is considered day to day after X-rays came back negative.

Pepiot was wearing an electric stimulation pad on his left calf in the clubhouse following the game and said he expects to make his next start.

“It’s just sore,” he said. “Should be all right. Just give it a couple of days, let the swelling go down, but should be fine.”

Pepiot fell to the Tropicana Field turf as the batted ball deflected off his leg and ended up near third base. The 26-year-old got to his feet and walked behind the mound with a noticeable limp. After taking a few moments to gather himself, Pepiot got back on the bump for some warmup pitches. He said the first one felt OK, but then he felt his calf start to tighten up on him as he made his second pitch.

“It was a smart decision to [leave the game],” Pepiot said.

That’s when manager Kevin Cash took the ball from his talented hurler and called for right-hander Manuel Rodríguez out of the bullpen.

“You could tell after the warmup pitches, he was grimacing both times,” Cash said. “Don't want to put him in any situation where he's altering the delivery. I think he's going to be sore tomorrow, but optimistic that he’ll be good to go.”

Pepiot has been a huge bright spot in his first season with the Rays, especially as the club has a handful of starting pitchers on the injured list. That group includes Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs and Taj Bradley.

Pepiot, who came to the Rays as part of their return in the Tyler Glasnow trade in December, entered Sunday’s game with a 3.12 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP and 38 strikeouts through 34 2/3 innings. He had given up only two earned runs through his previous three starts, spanning 18 innings. On Sunday, he allowed three earned runs and struck out three batters in two-plus frames.