LA's rotation is about to get a big boost

August 14th, 2022

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It’s been a long time, but Dustin May is getting close to making his return to the big leagues. That’s great news for the Dodgers. Not-so-good news for the rest of the league.

May was scheduled to make his fifth and final rehab start with Triple-A on Sunday. The Dodgers would like him to get through five innings of work. If that goes well, May should be slated to return to the Major League rotation when the Dodgers host the Marlins next weekend.

If that does indeed happen, it’ll be a much-needed addition to the Dodgers’ starting staff.

How does he fit in?
When Clayton Kershaw was healthy, there was a real possibility that Los Angeles either went to a six-man rotation or May would have to serve as a piggyback with another starter, likely Andrew Heaney, who has been limited to about 75-85 pitches since his return.

But with Kershaw down and Ryan Pepiot showing some inconsistencies during his limited appearances, the Dodgers will lean on May to join the rotation right away. With May, the Dodgers will have a formidable rotation with Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson and Heaney rounding it out.

Now, just because it appears he’s going to be in the rotation right away doesn’t mean the Dodgers will push him too hard. Expect May to have some sort of pitch limit when he does return.

Though recovering from Tommy John surgery is a relatively standard practice now, it’s still a major procedure. For the Dodgers, all they want is for May to be healthy when the games really matter in October.

What about in October? Will he start?
A lot of things can change in two months, but with the Dodgers leading the National League West by about a million games, all eyes are on what this team will look like come postseason time.

As of now, I expect May, assuming he’s effective and healthy, to be a starter come October. May has come out of the bullpen in the past, but asking him to do that coming off Tommy John surgery might scare off the Dodgers.

Urías kind of made the multi-inning starter-turned-reliever thing popular in 2020. May could, in theory, be a candidate for that, but I just don’t see that happening. At least, that’s what I’m hearing as of Aug. 14.

If May shows that he’s healthy and the Dodgers change their tune, then things could always go in another direction. My guess, however, is that the Dodgers would prefer having a pitcher like Anderson be the starter that moves into a prominent relief role.

Give us a little reminder. How good is May?
Before undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, the right-hander was having a breakout season. May was one of the top prospects in baseball a few years ago, but he was starting to put it all together at the big league level. 

May posted a 2.74 ERA and struck out 35 over 23 innings of work in 2021. His first four starts were about as dominant as any in the Majors. Expecting the same results right away is probably unfair to May. But the Dodgers have been counting down the days until they see May back on the mound. 

That’ll be happening very soon.