Since his return, the Los Angeles Dodgers have gotten a mixed bag with right-hander Dustin May, who’s now surrendered 15 earned runs on 21 hits and 14 walks across six starts (30 innings) following Tommy John surgery.
Really, it’s not bad. What more do you want from a guy who hadn’t pitched in 15 months and wasn’t expected to even be a factor in the rotation this year?
But is that good enough for the postseason? Probably not. The Dodgers can’t really afford to have another wild card in the rotation with Andrew Heaney potentially already being one and with Clayton Kershaw’s overall health as the other.
With all the help LA still needs in the bullpen, would it be crazy to have May join that unit, likely alongside Tony Gonsolin, who may not return as a starter once he’s cleared from his forearm strain?
May’s “stuff” would play very nicely in a relief role. He has a blazing two-seamer with a ton of run as well as a filthy curveball with an ungodly amount of break. Having a cutter and changeup in the arsenal doesn’t hurt, either, and would make him that much more valuable in shorter spurts.
Dustin May should be a reliever for the Dodgers in the postseason
Take, for example, some of these splits that support May’s case to shift to the bullpen come October. One is opponents’ first plate appearance against him and the other is pitches 1-25 of his outings this year.
- .116/.296/.186 slash line with four runs scored, 10 walks and 16 strikeouts in 54 plate appearances
- .083/.313/.083 with one run scored, eight walks and eight strikeouts in 32 plate appearances
After the batters’ first plate appearances and once May gets to pitch No. 26 and beyond, the numbers get a lot uglier. And it’s not surprising. Pitchers are typically worse more than once through the order, especially ones getting back up to speed after reconstructive elbow surgery.
But this might be a situation the Dodgers need to capitalize on to make use of a valuable asset and to help with May’s confidence/workload as the season nears its end.
Either that, or perhaps May serves as an opener on occasion depending upon the situation. In the end, the bullpen is thin and has more questions than answers (how healthy/capable will Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Victor Gonzalez and Tommy Kahnle be?), culminating with a lack of true stability in the back end with Craig Kimbrel.
Any puzzle pieces to bridge the gap to the ninth inning are more valuable than you think, and manager Dave Roberts might have one answer right in front of him.