Coming off Tommy John surgery, you couldn’t have asked for a better start to Dustin May’s 2022 campaign. In his first two starts back with LA, May posted a 0.82 ERA, 1.84 FIP and .135 OPP AVG.
Granted, both starts came against the Marlins, but the numbers were encouraging. In 11 innings, May struck out 13 with only three walks.
In his four starts since, things haven’t been as smooth sailing. Over his last four outings, May has posted a 6.63 ERA, 5.85 FIP and .225 OPP AVG. That’s including one of those starts being five innings of no-hit ball.
On Wednesday night, May had his worst outing of the season against Arizona. He allowed five runs on seven hits with two walks in only four innings of work.
With only two weeks left in the season, May has a handful of starts remaining to prove he’s worthy of a spot in the playoff rotation.
“Time is of the essence, there’s only a couple more starts to clean that stuff up,” Manager Dave Roberts said to reporters.
May actually threw a strike for 67 percent of his pitches. The problem was that he threw a high number of first pitch balls, falling behind in the count. When he had to battle from behind, the hitters made him pay.
“They hit the stuff I threw in the zone,” May said to reporters. “I threw a lot of balls. I set myself up for failure by walking guys. Just overall bad.
“I’m not putting guys away. I need to find something that I can execute when I need to. When I’m going for it, it’s not there.”
Outside of his first start, the strikeouts haven’t been there for May. He’s still generating a lot of swing-and-misses, but can’t seem to put hitters away, which has hurt him. Over his last five starts, May has 20 strikeouts in 25 innings. May hasn’t surpassed four strikeouts in his previous three starts.
It’s now been more than a month since May made his 2022 debut. He could easily blame the recovery from Tommy John surgery, but he’s not using that as an excuse.
“It’s beginning to be more of, I just need to execute,” May said to reporters. “It’s just part of it. I’m to a point now where I feel comfortable with everything. I just need to go and execute. It’s not really a thing with Tommy John anymore. I just need to go out and throw strikes.”
In four innings, May had two strikes on 13 hitters. Yet, he was only able to turn those at bats into four strikeouts. A lot of those two strike at bats resulted in hits, walks and hit by pitches.
“I think with Dustin, it’s not just about stuff,” Roberts said to reporters. “That’s why the radar gun can be misleading at times. The velocity was there. There’s a strike quality. There’s getting ahead. There’s a component of when you have a hitter in a leverage count, you have to put them away.”
There’s no question that May has arguably the best stuff in all of baseball. His pitches are nasty and look impossible to hit. We just saw last week in San Francisco that hitters can struggle with his stuff, as he no-hit the Giants through five innings.
“Trying to bully guys, which at times he’s guilty of, gets to be too predictable,” Roberts said to reporters. “Just continue to understand how to use his mix the right way will prove beneficial. Whether he was getting in predictable counts or you have a guy in a position to put a hitter away, he wasn’t able to do that.”
There are less than two weeks left in the season, meaning May has only a handful of starts before the postseason begins. Hopefully we can see him put hitters away in his next start, as the Dodgers are going to rely on him as a starter in October.