Notes: May's 100 mph heat too hot for Tatis

March 21st, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- is trying to claim one of the two open spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, and the right-hander continued to make the decision even more difficult for Los Angeles in a 4-4 tie with the Padres on Saturday.

May made his second start (third outing) of the spring and, statistically, it was the best appearance yet for the right-hander. The 23-year-old allowed just one run on six hits over 3 2/3 innings. He threw 69 pitches, including 45 for strikes, and struck out seven.

“I thought it was his best one yet,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Fastball command to all four quadrants was really good. I thought that’s the best feel he’s had for the curveball.”

The elite velocity on May’s sinker is obvious, and it was on full display again on Saturday, but the right-hander is trying to find other ways to miss more bats in 2021 after finishing in the seventh percentile in whiff percentage last season -- unusual for someone who regularly hits triple digits on the radar gun.

May was able to miss plenty of bats on Saturday, largely due to a sharp curveball. The Dodgers right-hander used the curveball to secure four of his seven punchouts. He was able to land the pitch for strikes and get hitters to chase it out of the zone. Having a strong secondary pitch helped May go back to the hard sinker.

With two on and nobody out in the third inning, May faced Fernando Tatis Jr. and was able to strike out the Padres superstar with an impressive sequence. May threw a 98 mph sinker for strike one, went to an 87 mph curveball for the second strike and finished Tatis off with a 100 mph fastball that the shortstop swung right through.

“I thought he came in -- he went right after guys,” said Dodgers utility man Chris Taylor. “With that armside run, it’s not a comfortable at-bat. Then he had his curveball really working as well. He got a lot of ground balls [and] we could’ve helped him out a little more, but he did his job. I thought he looked really good. He was throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys. It was good to see.”

On any other team, May would certainly be in the starting rotation, but the Dodgers’ surplus of starters has the right-hander still competing with , and for one of two open spots.

It appears that Urías has a slight lead to make the rotation and Price could be headed to the bullpen, a role the veteran left-hander says he would welcome if needed for it. Gonsolin is scheduled to start against the Giants on Sunday afternoon.

The Dodgers have said they are in no rush to name the other two starters; that competition might drag on until right before Opening Day. May, who went 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 12 appearances (10 starts) last season, will likely get two more shots to show he belongs in the rotation. Saturday’s start was a step in the right direction.

Game notes

recorded his first two extra-base hits of the spring on Saturday. Pollock got the scoring started with a long solo home run off the batter’s eye in the first inning off Padres left-hander Ryan Weathers. In his next at-bat, Pollock doubled off Weathers.

Pollock, who came into Saturday’s game 3-for-28 this spring, will get the majority of playing time in left field for the Dodgers. Taylor and are also expected to get some looks at the position.

continued his hot spring with a one-out double in the second inning. Lux, who is expected to get a good amount of playing time at second base this season, is now 12-for-31 (.387) with five RBIs this spring.

Pitching plans

Following Gonsolin’s start on Sunday at Camelback Ranch (airing on MLB.TV), will get the nod on Monday against the Mariners in Peoria.

Opening Day starter will pitch in a “B” game on Sunday. Kershaw struggled in his last outing, allowing five runs over four innings against Milwaukee on Tuesday. Kershaw’s velocity has been around 88-91 mph this spring. The hope for the Dodgers is that Kershaw will get through five innings during the “B” game.