The Los Angeles Dodgers are relying on a bullpen game Tuesday for the fifth time this season, the bulk of which became necessary in the wake of Dustin May requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery.
May’s injury came at a time when the Dodgers already were without Tony Gonsolin and David Price — which had a double impact as they are starters by trade who had been placed in the bullpen as part of the Opening Day roster.
“It’s not ideal,” manager Dave Roberts acknowledged of the frequent bullpen games. “It’s not ideal, but I think the credit goes to the starting pitchers. We feel that having four guys that can give you a really good chance to go deep in games certainly gives us a fighting chance for the bullpen days. But again, not ideal.”
To help alleviate the burden on their relief pitchers, Roberts revealed the Dodgers had planned to call up top prospect Josiah Gray for his MLB debut. “JoJo Gray was going to be one of the guys we were going to slot in,” Roberts said. “But the shoulder inflammation set him back.”
Had Gray performed well, it’s plausible the Dodgers would have entrusted him with multiple starts.
Gray was scratched from a start in the middle of last month due to what the Dodgers described as a right shoulder impingement. “I think right now we’re going to shut him down for a week to 10 days, not pick up a baseball, and then we’ll kind of see where he’s at at that point,” Roberts said at the time.
“Just felt a little discomfort. Just happy we and Josiah detected early and he didn’t try to push himself.”
Roberts more recently said he had not received any update on a timeline for to Gray to begin playing catch or throwing off a mound.
Gray continued to impress
After spending more time with the Dodgers in Major League camp during Spring Training, Gray reported to Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he started their season opener.
“He’s come quick, very live arm, not a whole lot of mileage, great makeup, great body, great head, great work ethic. All that. We view him as a starter and it’s a plus-fastball with great characteristics,” Roberts said.
“Just continue to work on the command. There’s a lot of arm-side miss, when he can clean that up. He’s got a really good changeup that he can throw to righties and lefties. And just continue to develop the breaking ball to strike it and shorten it.
“As a potential starter, you’ve got to have that three-pitch mix, in my opinion. There’s nothing Josiah hasn’t been able to dominate when he puts his mind to it, so that’s an easy bet.”
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