The Dodgers optioned Michael Grove to Triple-A Oklahoma City, according to the transactions log at MLB.com. That brings to an end the battle for the fifth starter’s role, which had been down to Grove and Ryan Pepiot. Los Angeles also optioned lefty reliever Victor González.
Manager Dave Roberts indicated the Dodgers felt Pepiot outperformed Grove this spring (relayed by Fabian Ardaya of the Athletic). Pepiot certainly did a better job keeping runs off the board, allowing five runs in 13 2/3 frames. Grove was tagged for ten runs across 16 2/3 innings, albeit with a quality 17:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Pepiot also fared very well in that regard, punching out 19 while walking five.
L.A. will turn to Pepiot as the #5 starter behind Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard and Dustin May to open the year. The Dodgers will be without Tony Gonsolin for a few weeks due to an ankle sprain, opening the path for the two younger hurlers to battle for a starting job.
Pepiot, a fairly recent top prospect, made his big league debut last season. The 25-year-old started seven out of nine appearances, working to a quality 3.47 ERA. He punched out an above-average 26.3% of batters faced but issued walks at an untenable 16.9% clip. He’d kept the walks to a more manageable 9.8% rate while striking out over 30% of opposing hitters in 91 1/3 innings in Oklahoma City.