Dodgers get expected brutal news on Dustin May as next steps await
By Adam Weinrib
UPDATE: It’s official. The Dodgers announced Dustin May will have reconstructive UCL surgery in about a week.
Dustin May’s abrupt departure from Saturday’s Dodgers–Brewers game with a troublesome arm injury was one of those rare instances in baseball when the immediate naysayers are the ones we should listen to.
There was almost no chance the resulting news would be good when May, who typically sits in the low-100s, threw a 94 MPH fastball in obvious pain and departed in a hurry.
We should’ve listened to the skeptics. It might’ve been a lot easier to reckon with this pain.
Already down Tony Gonsolin and David Price from what we thought was an embarrassment of riches in the No. 5 starter conversation, the Dodgers will now be without May, whose stint on the 10-Day IL should be a lot longer than that.
Insider Jon Morosi reported on Monday, using the dreaded “sources,” that initial examinations on May revealed some UCL damage, and the next 24 hours will determine whether the 23-year-old righty misses a year and a half following Tommy John surgery.
Those who opt out of having the surgery are an increasingly rare breed, though.
Young Dodgers ace Dustin May has UCL damage.
Outside of Masahiro Tanaka, who pitched with a partially-torn UCL through basically his entire MLB career (he damaged the ligament in 2014, his rookie season), you won’t find many pitchers who successfully go through the “rest and rehab” route.
May started this season — his second full season in the bigs if you count the shortened 2020 — spectacularly, using his unique riding fastball at a ridiculously elevated velocity to rack up 35 Ks in 23 innings for an impressive 142 ERA+.
Without the righty in the rotation long-term, look for Price and Gonsolin to battle it out following their respective returns, with Gonsolin likely able to provide more length at the outset.
Who will fill in for May isn’t the point, though. The Dodgers have depth. We understand that. It’s reckoning with the idea of losing the stuff, the arsenal, the poise and the entire personality that has us troubled. May is a unique starter who can’t be swapped out one-for-one without some form of impact.
As the Dodgers await word on the extent of the similarly spooky forearm soreness that’s sidelined Brusdar Graterol, another young pitcher with extremely easy velocity, it’s possible Los Angeles will have two cautionary tales on their hand, while the rest of baseball’s science experiments await their punishment.
It’s a spectacular time to be watching modern baseball, and also an extremely depressing one, where every budding ace appears to come with a ticking clock.