May's Friday debut to serve as audition
Dodgers' No. 2 prospect likely to make more than one start
LOS ANGELES -- Top pitching prospect Dustin May starts Friday night in his MLB debut, as the Dodgers open their first August training camp in preparation for the postseason.
That’s what it amounts to after a tame Trade Deadline by Dodgers' standards. Unable to land Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vazquez -- and afforded the luxury to experiment because of a runaway division lead -- the club will hold tryouts over the next two months to distill a pitching staff for October.
“We’re going to take this opportunity now to see guys in different roles to give us a better idea of how it might look in October,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Every opportunity is an audition for young players. [May has] earned the opportunity to pitch here and for us to put our eyes on him here is important. As the days go on, it will be more clear for the role of Dustin and a lot of our guys.”
Those guys include Tony Gonsolin, who is back at Triple-A after a four-inning save at Coors Field on Tuesday, and Julio Urías, who will remain in the bullpen for now, although Roberts did not rule out Urias returning to the rotation.
Roberts said the 21-year-old May is likely to make more than one start, depending on how he pitches and how Ross Stripling recovers from biceps tendinitis. Roberts didn’t rule out May shifting to relief by October.
“If the time comes when I move to the bullpen, I’m 100 percent down for it,” said May. “At the moment right now, I’m just focusing on my start and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
May is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline. He was a third-round pick in 2016 out of Northwest High School in Justin, Texas, and signed for almost $1 million, despite a commitment to Texas Tech. He split last year between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa. He opened this year at Tulsa and was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City a month ago.
He had a 3-5 record with a 3.74 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 15 starts at Tulsa, and was 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in five starts at Oklahoma City.
“His makeup, the workload and the performance,” said Roberts, ticking off the attributes. “We’re all excited to see him make his debut at Dodger Stadium. We’re not concerned with how Dustin will handle this stage. The pulse will be fine. He can command the baseball. We just want to see how it looks.”
Roberts said in the exit meeting with May at the end of Spring Training, he challenged the pitcher to focus on staying healthy and pitching well, that his time would arrive, and that this “might be a tick before I expected it.”
May is unmistakable on the mound at 6-foot-6 with shoulder-length curly, red hair that has earned him the nickname “Gingergaard” as a nod to another long-haired hard-thrower, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard.
“As long as it’s said in a good way, it doesn’t matter,” said May, who said he let his hair grow during his senior year of high school and liked it enough not to cut it.
He said the callup caught him by surprise. He received the news from Oklahoma City manager Travis Barbary 45 minutes after he and Gonsolin were talking about possibly being traded leading up to the Deadline. May’s name was mentioned so frequently a year ago, he said, “it was overwhelming” and he turned his phone off.