Dustin May injury update means Dodgers fans might need to forget about him

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

This sounds harsh, but that's not the intent. It's just far more discouraging for fans to get excited about future production when there's no guarantee it'll arrive. And that might be the case withLos Angeles Dodgers pitcher Dustin May.

Despite landing on the injured list last week with a flexor pronator strain, May is among the NL pitching WAR leaders -- he's at 1.9, which is good for fourth place behind Justin Steele, Alex Cobb and Bryce Elder. May's resurgence across his first nine starts was a breath of fresh air for Dodgers fans who were hoping to see him maximize his potential after he went down in 2021 and required Tommy John surgery.

May returned for a few outings in 2022, but they didn't go well. Then he got a fresh start in 2023 and looked like his 2020-early 2021 self. Then ... his surgically-repaired elbow barked.

Initially believed to be a 4-6 week absence with the potential for him to throw after a month, May is now out for a minimum of 60 days after his IL transfer. If he's not returning until August (a significant "if"!), how can the team rely on him for top-notch production with this long of a layoff?

And again, his throwing elbow is still giving him trouble, which is never a good sign this soon after Tommy John. It's beyond difficult to project future output with that kind of an injury, let alone the fact the right-hander has appeared in 20 games since the start of 2021.

Dustin May's latest injury update might mean Dodgers fans need to forget about him

Fans shouldn't forget about his existence (we love May!); they should just forget about the possibility of him providing co-ace-like outings again in 2023 like he was before his injury. He'll experience another long period of time away from the game, have to engage in a lengthy ramp-up, and then get used to MLB action once again.

The rebuttal here is that May just did that. He beat the odds at the onset of this season and managed to be one of the best starters in the game. That's something to be optimistic about, especially if his road to recovery is handled flawlessly.

But he also had six starts in 2022, as well as spring training this past offseason, to work out the kinks. He won't be afforded that same luxury this time around as he returns post-trade deadline/down the stretch when the playoff race heats up.

For now, the Dodgers will be relying on top prospects Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone for help in the rotation as they try to make do without May and Julio Urías (10-day IL stint) while Noah Syndergaard continues to struggle.

The Dodgers just endured lingering Tommy John struggles with Tommy Kahnle, who underwent the procedure in late 2020, suffered a setback in the beginning of 2022, and then only ended up pitching 12.2 innings across his two seasons in LA. Fans are hoping for the best with May, but tempering expectations might be the best way to approach his 2023 outlook right now.