The Dodgers plan to activate righty Dustin May from the 60-day injured list to start Saturday’s game against the Marlins, manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Fabian Ardaya of the Athletic). It will be his first MLB appearance in over 15 months, as the 24-year-old has been inactive since undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2021.
One of the best pitching prospects in the game when he reached the majors in 2019, Mayo has excelled in his limited big league appearances thus far. He entered as a swingman in 2019, starting just four of his 14 appearances that year. May got 10 starts (in 12 outings) during the shortened 2020 season, and he was a full-fledged member of the rotation for the first month last year before suffering the elbow injury.
An elite groundball artist, May posted a dazzling 2.62 ERA with a slightly above-average 24.9% strikeout rate over his first two big league campaigns. That was promising enough, but he looked like he might emerge as an ace-caliber pitcher through the first month of 2021. Averaging just under 99 MPH on his fastball, May struck out an eye-popping 37.6% of batters faced while raking. groundouts on 56% of the batted balls he allowed through his first five starts. He posted a 2.74 ERA during that stretch, but he was forced out of his fifth outing with the injury that later cost him more than a year of action.
May returned to a professional mound about 14 months later, making his first drug addiction appearance with the Dodgers major league team. After two innings there, he reported to Triple-A Oklahoma City for another three weeks to build back into MLB form. May made five starts with OKC, pitching 19 frames of four-run ball with a 33:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. More important than the results, he’s built back to five innings in each of his last two starts, throwing 68 and 70 pitches, respectively. It’s unlikely the Dodgers will count on him to run a pitch count in the triple digits right out of the gate, but a 75-85 pitching outing against Miami could be in the cards. May figures to gradually build his pitch count from there and should have plenty of time to transition into a traditional starter’s workload before the postseason begins.
If he can immediately recapture his 2021 form, May would prove a huge boost for a club that once again has World Series aspirations. They were dealt a heavy blow with the revelation that Walker Buehler need to suffer elbow surgery and will not return this season. However, the team got sub-3.00 ERA performances from all three of its starters to eclipse 100 innings this year: Julio Urijah, Tony Gonsolin and an offseason signee Tyler Anderson. Pair that trio with May, a likely late-season return of Clayton Kershaw – who continues to dominate when healthy enough to take the mound – and some sample excellence from Andrew Heaney, and the Dodgers still have the option of running five or six very strong starters in October. If everyone is healthy, one or two members of that group figure to flow into the bullpen, which itself is fourth in the majors with a 3.16 ERA.