May shows he's healthy in longest start of career (2024)

Betts hits solo home run, but offense struggles to support right-hander

April 1st, 2023

May shows he's healthy in longest start of career (1)

Juan Toribio

@juanctoribio

LOS ANGELES -- The first few weeks of the regular season are typically used to learn about a team. That’s especially true for this version of the Dodgers, given the changes the roster went through this offseason.

On Opening Day, the Dodgers got a glimpse of what it could all look like when it clicks. They got timely hitting, great defense and dominant pitching. But in a 2-1 loss to the D-backs on Friday night at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles saw another version of its lineup, one it didn’t see much of last year, and one it hopes to not see too much of in 2023.

The Dodgers applied plenty of pressure on the Arizona pitching staff. They didn’t go down in order in any inning. But they were ultimately unable to deliver the big hit, going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving 12 men on base.

“We’ll try not to think too much about this one, as far as on the offensive side,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “That’s baseball. You just have to stick with guys, trust guys and you’ll be just fine.”

Mookie Betts provided the only run for the Dodgers on Friday, smacking a go-ahead homer off right-hander Drey Jameson in the seventh inning. Betts has taken some uncharacteristic swings to start the season, but on that one he looked more like himself, giving the Dodgers a lead that wouldn’t last long.

In the eighth, Alex Vesia, who has been one of the Dodgers’ most dependable relievers over the last two seasons, allowed a go-ahead, two-run homer to Kyle Lewis. Vesia, who allowed just two homers to righties last season, left a pitch up where Lewis could handle it.

“The ball was a little down in the zone today,” Vesia said. “Gave up one hit and then just one bad pitch.”

Though the offense was unable to get much going and Vesia had a rough outing, the Dodgers did learn something else about another key player on the roster. Los Angeles watched Dustin May prove that he’s completely healthy, showing just about everything that gives the Dodgers plenty of optimism that he could be the same pitcher he was before he went down to Tommy John surgery in 2021.

May was efficient and in control, allowing three hits over seven scoreless innings in his season debut. His four-seam fastball was routinely touching triple digits and his curveball and cutter were just as sharp. That allowed May to complete seven innings for the first time in his big league career.

“I think he’s better than before,” Roberts said. “And I say that because going through that rehab process, there’s some maturity that needs to happen and I think that’s one component. And I think the delivery is as consistent as I’ve ever seen. For me, he’s a better Major League pitcher than he was, call it, 18 or 19 months ago.”

A healthy and efficient May could be a huge boost to a Dodgers’ rotation that comes into the season with some injury concerns. The Dodgers will be cautious with May’s workload. He hasn’t pitched in an entire big league season. But when he’s on the mound, the Dodgers are going to need the right-hander to become the pitcher that made him one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

“It was very encouraging,” May said of his start. “That was a big thing for me this Spring Training, just coming out of it healthy. I feel good right now and I feel like I’m in a good spot.”

The Dodgers will continue learning about their team throughout the summer and into the fall. That’s been clear over the first two games of the season. But through two games, with performances like May’s, it’s easy to see why the team came into the season with plenty of optimism.

“We felt pretty good about our chances there, especially with our bullpen, and then the guys coming in and, unfortunately, we couldn't hold onto that lead,” said Dodgers shortstop Miguel Rojas. “If you look back, I feel like we had the opportunity to win this baseball game, which is something that is always important.”

May shows he's healthy in longest start of career (2024)

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