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Dodgers could turn to top prospect Ryan Pepiot for start in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — The Dodgers’ top pitching prospect might make his big-league debut this week.

Right-hander Ryan Pepiot joined the team in Pittsburgh on Monday and was placed on the taxi squad. The Dodgers will need a spot starter Wednesday but have not announced who that will be.

“It just leaves the option open,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of bringing Pepiot to Pittsburgh in advance of a potential start. “We’re not going to commit to it. But certainly getting him here in town puts us in a position where we can do that if we choose to.”

Roberts has also said Andre Jackson and Robbie Erlin are options as well. Whoever starts Wednesday would also likely start one of the games in the Dodgers’ doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks at home next week.

“We still have an opportunity to see how the next couple nights go,” Roberts said.

Pepiot has started the season 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA after six starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He has held Triple-A hitters to a .189 batting average with 36 strikeouts in 26⅓ innings.

“I think talent, I think performance has put him in this position,” Roberts said. “Ultimately, if we decide to pull the trigger, it’ll be an exciting day for all of us.”

Pepiot would have to be moved to the 40-man roster before making his debut. With reliever Blake Treinen (shoulder inflammation) not expected back until after the All-Star break and lefty Victor Gonzalez about to undergo elbow surgery, the Dodgers could move either to the 60-day injured list to clear a 40-man spot.

TAYLOR TIME

Heading into Monday’s game, Chris Taylor had slipped into a 6-for-31 slump with 18 strikeouts in that time, including 10 in his previous 14 at-bats. Roberts said he plans to give Taylor “a day to watch a baseball game” on Tuesday when Roberts plans to load up on left-handers in the lineup against Pirates right-hander Bryse Wilson.

“It’s one of these funks that he’s in this last week. He’ll work through it,” Roberts said.

“When he goes bad it doesn’t look good because there’s a lot of swing-and-miss in there. But he always finds a way to get out of it.”

The swing changes that turned Taylor from a fringe big-leaguer into an All-Star have resulted in a high-maintenance swing, Roberts acknowledged. Taylor has struck out at least 115 times in each of the past four full seasons, leading the National League with 178 in 2018.

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