Dodgers Rookie Dustin May Focused On Improving Offspeed Pitches
Dustin May, Justin Turner
Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports

Dustin May went from being left on the Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day roster to starting for the team in two of their most marquee games thus far on the young season.

First, May was tasked with filling in for Clayton Kershaw, who was unable to start the season opener because of back stiffness that forced him to the injured list. May’s performance earned him a second turn through the rotation in place of Kershaw.

That came Wednesday against the Houston Astros, which originally was shaping to be a matchup between Kershaw and Justin Verlander. However, days after the Dodgers put their longtime ace on the IL, Verlander was sidelined due to a forearm issue.

What the matchup lost in a pitching duel, it more than made up for with animosity. Benches cleared in the series opener, leading to Joe Kelly being suspended eight games and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for one. Astros skipper Dusty Baker was fined.

While May again was thrust into a big moment as a rookie, he focused inward. “I just needed to go out and get the job done,” he said. “I didn’t have all my stuff. I was pretty much just heater and the occasional cutter; curveball wasn’t really working.

“For me, it fueled me to just go out there and compete, do what I can to get as many innings as I could with the stuff that I had.”

May only allowed one run but failed to make it through four innings. He had bouts of struggling with command, though nearly prevented a run from being scored on an infield single. May took responsibility for being late to cover first base.

Now having struggled to provide length in both of his starts, the 22-year-old intends to focus on sharpening his secondary pitches. “Command. I need to be more in the zone with offspeed pitches,” May said of his biggest takeaway thus far.

“I need to mix a little more, get my offspeed back where it was.”

Ross Stripling impressed by Big Red

Multiple Dodgers have remarked at strides May has made since making his MLB debut last season, with Ross Stripling the latest to do so.

“For what I can tell, how hard he worked, I think he came in 30 pounds stronger and his first outing of Summer Camp he was at like 99 (mph) so you could tell that he worked hard and earned a spot in that rotation,” Stripling said before Wednesday’s game.

“Obviously you never want to see Clayton go down, but for Dustin to step in on Opening Day, that is no small feat and he did it, I don’t know if effortlessly is the right word, but you know, it seemed like he didn’t bat an eye and goes in there and throws strikes.

“He’s obviously really good against righties and I expect him to go out there and compete like he has, basically from Day 1 in the big leagues. His arsenal speaks for itself when you’re throwing 99 mph sinkers like that, it’s hard to hit no matter who you are.”

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!