Dustin May exiting start vs Twins with recurring elbow pain spells doom for Dodgers

Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Dodgers
Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

The 2023 season feels like a war of attrition in the rotations of NL contenders. And while the Dodgers haven't lost the war just yet, they may have lost a significant battle on Wednesday.

Already down Walker Buehler (likely) for the year, Los Angeles saw starter Dustin May exit in the bottom of the first inning after throwing just 16 pitches. His velocity was down.

May, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021 and returned down the stretch last season, was carefully coaxed along by the Dodgers' organization and made certain not to rush back or exert himself too heavily last year.

Ultimately, the fearsome interruption that May and the team were most frightened of reared its ugly head on Wednesday anyway. His right elbow pain recurred, and now, uncertainty begins.

Dodgers lose Dustin May to right elbow pain after 16 pitches vs Twins

When May succumbed to elbow pain in 2021, the prognosis was dire, but at least there was some degree of certainty at the end of his rehab. Pitchers had encountered Tommy John surgery before. Many more would go under the knife by the end of the next few seasons.

Now, May's future -- and the severity of this setback -- is entirely unknown. The same can be said of the Dodgers' rotation, which hasn't gotten Buehler back, and will be watching Julio Urías enter free agency when the 2023 season concludes. He's one of Scott Boras' clients. Those folks don't typically return to the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw, a Cy Young candidate once again, is 35 years old.

May is 4-1 on the season with 32 strikeouts and a 2.68 ERA. Updates are surely to follow, and while likely fill-in Gavin Stone is a semi-panacea, his arrival won't do anything to quell nerves around May's departure until the Dodgers have some degree of certainty about the right-hander's status. Both this year and next.