Dodgers will ask rookie pitchers to take on key roles in postseason – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — Last October, Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan, Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove all spent October in Arizona.

Miller wasn’t even throwing. He was working out at Camelback Ranch, rehabilitating a sore shoulder that had limited him to 8⅔ innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City in September.

Sheehan was playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, having spent most of his season in Class-A.

Pepiot and Grove made their big-league debuts during the 2022 season. They pitched in the intrasquad games the Dodgers played before facing the San Diego Padres in the first round of the playoffs then reported to ‘stay-hot camp’ in Glendale – a group of players who continued to work out in case they were needed to replace injured players at any point in the postseason.

A group of the players would get together to watch the Dodgers’ playoff games, Miller said – gatherings that didn’t last very long thanks to the Dodgers’ brief postseason run.

This year, their October agenda is very different. The four rookies figure to get their first taste of postseason baseball from the inside, counted on to play significant roles in the Dodgers’ pitching plans.

“They’re going to pitch meaningful innings for us,” Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said. “Over the course of the year, they’ve been exposed to and handled different adversity and hot situations really well. Pep learning from last year. Emmet, when he’s come back up (at the start of September) has thrown really well. Bobby … he is hungry, learning from each pitch, each outing and trying to continue to improve at every turn.

“So it’s been a group that we’ve watched develop over the years, and then really starting to see them understand how to navigate through lineups and games. We feel very good about this group. And we’ll go see them perform in the postseason on the biggest stage.”

Grove thinks he knows what that stage will be like.

“Electric,” he said. “I just imagine everybody’s locked in on every pitch and it’s going to be an electric environment. I’m excited to be a part of it.

“It’s kind of one of those things where everybody says you have to experience it.”

Pepiot has done his research, asking some of the veteran pitchers what to expect.

“I’ve talked to a few guys in here about the difference between playoffs and regular-season games. I’ve gotten various answers,” he said. “More or less, it’s been that fans are going to be a little more into it, it’s going to be way louder, probably going to have to have Pitch.Com turned all the way up, put your glove over your ear. But it’s still the same game. … Just go out there and compete. Get the outs that you’re asked to get. And score one more run than the other team.”

The four rookies will be asked to get those outs in varying roles. Miller will be the Game 2 starter in the first round against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pepiot could start Game 3 or be used in a ‘bulk’ role following an opener. Sheehan is likely to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen, perhaps as a partner with veteran starter Clayton Kershaw or Lance Lynn.

“I’m just going to treat it like any other game,” Miller said. “Don’t make anything too crazy about it. I want to win every game so why make this any different? … I don’t want to change who I am.”

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