Dodgers right-hander Dustin May left Saturday’s start in the second inning due to an arm injury, and the initial news isn’t good. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitter link) that May has suffered some damage to his right UCL, and he and the “Dodgers will make [an] official decision on how to proceed in the next 24 hours.”
The worst-case scenario, of course, would be a Tommy John surgery that would keep May on the shelf for the next 13-15 months. Depending on the severity of the UCL damage, May could first opt to rest and rehab his elbow in an attempt to pitch through the discomfort — Masahiro Tanaka is probably the most well-known example of a pitcher who avoided TJ surgery and went on to pitch for years with little issue despite a tear in his UCL. That said, Tanaka is a rare case, and if May spends time rehabbing his elbow and then has to undergo a Tommy John procedure anyway, the added time could run him the risk of missing the entire 2022 campaign.
Regardless, it’s an all-around tough situation for a 23-year-old hurler who seemed to be on pace to be the Dodgers’ next great homegrown pitcher. A third-round pick in the 2016 draft, May was regarded as one of baseball’s best prospects during his time in the Los Angeles farm system, and he has a 2.93 ERA, 24.2% strikeout rate, and an impressive 5.9% walk rate over 113 2/3 innings in the big leagues. He has also logged 14 postseason innings, with 10 2/3 of those frames coming during the Dodgers’ run to the World Series last fall.
Los Angeles plans to have Tony Gonsolin step into May’s open rotation spot, though Gonsolin has yet to pitch this year due to shoulder inflammation, and will require an estimated 3-4 weeks to get fully ramped up. The Dodgers could make do with a four-man rotation until Gonsolin is ready, and David Price doesn’t appear to be a starting option since he is also still recovering from a hamstring strain.
With a starting four of Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, and Walker Buehler, it’s hard to say the Dodgers are exactly hurting for rotation help. If May does indeed end up missing an extended amount of time, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team sign an innings-eating veteran to a minor league deal in the short term, and L.A. could certainly eye a bigger-name hurler at the trade deadline.