LOS ANGELES – The last time Yancy Almonte appeared at Dodger Stadium was before Thursday, he walked two of the seven batsmen he faced. Four of the other five hitters were dismissed. It was a distinctive outing in many ways for Almonte, whose 2021 season was uneven at best with the Colorado Rockies.
Almonte became a free agent after last season and signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers when the lockout ended in March. The 27-year-old right-hander returned to the Majors on Thursday after the Dodgers picked up his contract from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers didn’t need to move to a similar 40-man roster to accommodate Almonte. His top pitching prospect Ryan Pepiot, who made his debut on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, was selected to Triple-A to make it to the 26-man roster.
Surrounded to the tune of a 7.55 ERA last year in Colorado, Almonte has turned his career around in short order. He faced 56 hitters to start the Triple-A season without issuing a walk. He made 25 strike outs in his 15 innings. His ERA at the time of call-up was 3.52.
Now, with the Dodgers in the midst of a 30-day stretch of 31 games, the bullpen needs a respite.
“He’s such a big league pitcher that we were lucky to have a non-roster position in spring training,” manager Dave Roberts said of Almonte. “It’s an electric arm.”
Almonte took an aggressive approach to the camp under the guidance of pitching coaches Mark Prior and Conor McGuinness, which he then carried into the regular season. A four-pitch pitcher in the past, Almonte leans into his sinker and slider.
Let the results speak for themselves. Not long ago, Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary was deploying Almonte in high-leverage positions late in the games.
Almonte made his Dodger debut against the Phillies in the seventh inning on Thursday night. He retired all six batsmen he faced, dismissing four.
Despite being optional, Pepiot is eligible to rejoin the Dodgers for Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Roberts said Pepiot is “in the mix” to start one of the two games.
It will be Tyler Anderson’s next turn in the rotation on Tuesday. The left-handed batsman will be able to start the second game at regular rest.
Right-hander Mitch White is eligible to return from the COVID-19 injured list, but the right-hander will not appear in the doubleheader. White is using his time to increase his pitch count in anticipation of starting on IL. Roberts said White is already ready for two innings.
Roberts said Victor Gonzalez underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his left elbow. The relief pitcher is expected to return after the All-Star break. … David Price, who is on the COVID-19 injured list, threw a mound on Thursday and is expected to be active next week. … Edwin Rios made a third straight start at third base. Roberts admitted that he’s more inclined to ride a hot arm during the 30-day stretch. Third baseman Justin Turner was healthy but was not in the starting lineup.
Philadelphia (RHP Kyle Gibson, 3-1, 2.94 ERA) at the Dodgers (RHP Walker Buehler, 4-1, 1.96 ERA), Friday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, MLB Network, 570 AM