Dodgers @ Pirates June 24, 2016: Tepesch Time

The Dodgers go for their seventh straight win Friday night in the series opener at PNC Park. Nick Tepesch is set to make his Dodger debut after being promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Pittsburgh has lost their last three games to the N.L. West leading Giants, and the Dodgers remain six games back of their rivals despite winning eight of their last nine.

Yasiel Puig‘s flying slide into home in Wednesday night’s unforgettable 4-3 walk-off win against the Nationals was symbolic of the current Dodger winning streak. With a fired up offense including a Justin Turner hot streak and the return of Puig, the Dodgers have suddenly been able to find success in one-run games. They are 5-0 in these close contests since I wrote about their performance in such one-run affairs last week.

4:05 p.m. PT
 Grandal 2B  Rodriguez
Tepesch (R)
Taillon (R)

The pitching, especially the bullpen, has been superb. The Dodgers have one of the best bullpens in baseball even with Pedro Baez.

That being said, the Dodgers give the ball to a relatively unknown pitcher for the series opener in Pittsburgh. Dustin gave us the rundown on Tepesch yesterday. He will be making the start instead of Mike Bolsinger. Bolsinger was optioned back to Oklahoma City after his disastrous 2 2/3-inning start last Saturday.

The Dodger bullpen has really picked up the slack over the first half of the season after numerous injuries befell the starting pitching staff. Three starters haven’t pitched a single game this season (Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson), and many more are on the disabled list (Alex Wood, Brandon Beachy and Jose DeLeon). Frankie Montas broke a second rib and will be out four to eight weeks. Ross Stripling is being stashed in order to protect his surgically repaired arm, and Zach Lee was finally traded away to Seattle.

Tepesch hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2014 with Texas, but the 27-year old does have 219 innings of experience at the big league level. It will be his first career start against the Pirates. David Freese has four hits in 13 at-bats against him, and he’s allowed a home run to John Jaso.

Quote of the day:

In order to make room for Tepesch, the Dodgers designated Will Venable for assignment. Venable only had one hit, a double, with the Dodgers in 10 at-bats.

The big right-hander Jameson Taillon (1-1, 3.50) is set to make his fourth Major League start for the Bucs. The former overall No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft notched his first career win against the Mets when he only allowed two hits over eight scoreless innings in his second start. In his last start, he allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and a walk on 85 pitches in four innings. He was subsequently tagged with his first career loss to the Cubs.

The seemingly perennial Wild Card loser, the Pirates, haven’t been able to cross that playoff bridge even though they have found success in the regular season the past three years. They will not be able to catch the Cubs who are 14 games ahead of them in the N.L. Central. They are currently five games back in the Wild Card standings as well.

The Pirates have had their own injury woes. Gerrit Cole is on the disabled list with a right triceps strain, and catcher Francisco Cervelli broke his left hand. It doesn’t help that Andrew McCutchen is only hitting .238/.315/.401 with 10 home runs through his first 69 games this year, and their pitching staff has a combined 4.57 ERA.

Four games against the beautiful backdrop of PNC Park, one of my favorite ballparks in the league, looks to be a perfect scenario for the red hot Dodgers to gain some ground in the West. Let’s hope the other Pennsylvania team can help the Dodgers out.

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About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.