The Dodgers are having a strike of bad luck with top players’ injuries. They are running short of pitchers because after David Price and Tony Gonsolin, now Dustin May is out too. The young star will not be back before the end of the 2022 season, possibly even later. The official confirmation from the management came on May 3: “Dustin May will undergo right elbow UCL reconstruction surgery on Tuesday, May 11 in Los Angeles.” The incident had happened two days earlier during his start against the Brewers. Immediately after he threw a pitch to Billy McKinney, May winced in pain and started shaking his lower arm and wrist. The scene was caught on camera and created dismay among fans in California while the Dodgers trained rushed to Dustin’s help. They escorted him off the grounds without attempting to resume the game as the injury was clearly a fairly severe matter even at first glance.
The Dodger’s first measure was to place the injured pitcher on a 10-day injured list. The first news spoke of a generic right arm injury (May felt “a shooting sensation” in his arm). Manager Dave Roberts told the press: “we remain hopeful, but we won’t know until we get an MRI.” Hope was short-lived. According to Virginia Zakas of Inside Injuries via The Athletic, a scan of the elbow was performed and showed that the 23-year-old pitcher has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the main ligament along the inside of the elbow. Tommy John surgery is therefore unavoidable, and recovery times are long. The best way to reduce injury risk to a minimum for Dustin is to wait a full 18 months before returning to the rotation. But a further 6-12 months could be necessary for him to retrieve his peak condition. Sending him back to the field in 2022 would in any case force the Dodgers to handle May with care and use him sparingly, limiting his innings each outing and allowing him to rest between games.
Dustin May’s contract with the Dodgers binds him through 2025, so they will not want to risk a full recovery of this very promising rising star by rushing his recovery. Tommy John surgery no longer requires a rehab time frame of 10-12 months; it is rather a story of 14-18 months today. May is only 23 and considered one of the most talented young pitchers out there. Hence, Los Angeles has all the interest in allowing him a full recovery. Before the injury interrupted his course, he had a 2.74 ERA in five starts, with 35 strikeouts in 23 innings. He had begun the season with a 2.98 ERA in 90 2/3 big league innings.
After starting with a good rotation, the Dodgers have found themselves in a tight place because of the number of injured pitchers. Luckily, David Price and Tony Gonsolin should be returning next month. In the meantime, the team will have to make do somehow. The incident is revealing they definitely have a significant weakness in their bullpen.
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