When the Los Angeles dodgers called up Dustin May for his MLB debut, it was with a clear intention to keep the young right-hander in the starting rotation for the time being. Any evaluation for a possible role out of the bullpen would come at a later date.
Just over two weeks later and three starts into his young career, that time has arrived for May. He was bumped into the bullpen in Sunday’s series finale in favor of Tony Gonsolin making the first of what’s expected to be multiple starts.
The Dodgers are exploring the possibility of including either of their top pitching prospects on the staff come October. Albeit just one game, May’s first experiment with appearing in relief left plenty to be desired.
Now slated to be used in that role for the foreseeable future, May is aware of the need to find a new routine that will allow him to succeed as a relief pitcher, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I would attribute it mostly to a lack of command. A little amped up, a little excited. Still got to go out and execute and I execute really for any pitch. I feel like there’s only room for improvement from here. I just got to get in my head to think I’m going to guy out in front of me. …
“Just trying to find the right way to warm up, the right way to get prepared to go in the game. Kind of stick with the same routine until I find something better that works. … I’m going to try and draw (from other pitchers), but it’s mainly got to be feel for me. Whatever feels right for me is what’s going to get the job done.”
May entered in the sixth inning and with a 3-1 lead. He quickly retired Josh Donaldson but began to struggle with command. A walk, single and hit by pitch loaded the bases. May then surrendered what amounted to a game-winning grand slam to Rafael Ortega.
May did bounce back to work a scoreless seventh inning, stranding Donaldson after he hit a two-out single. One common theme for the 21-year-old was a failure to put batters away when getting to two strikes. That was also a bit of a problem spot for May in each of his three starts.
The Dodgers nonetheless remain committed to their experimenting with Gonsolin and May, particularly with Julio Urias serving a 20-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. Urias was credited for five games missed while on administrative leave and is eligible to be reinstated from the suspended list on Sept. 2.
In the meantime, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said May is a candidate to help fill the void as a multiple-inning relief pitcher. Including time in the Minors, May has just six relief appearances in his career.