Back in June, Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged the possibility of Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May both potentially making their MLB debut this season and contributing out of the bullpen.
Months later, the organization’s top two pitching prospects figure to factor heavily into the Dodgers’ outlook for October. Each helped fill the void in the starting rotation while Rich Hill recovered from a flexor strain, and now the young right-handers are being viewed as candidates for the bullpen.
Gonsolin was scheduled to start Wednesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays but instead pitched in relief. “I think it’s just more the thought of you look at Tony and how we can use him going forward, it’s out of the ‘pen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained of the switch to Casey Sadler.
Meanwhile, Dustin May also entered out of the bullpen, extending his audition as a relief pitcher this month. He allowed consecutive singles to start the seventh inning but retired the next three batters to escape the jam and preserve the Dodgers’ 5-4 lead at the time.
May then worked around a leadoff single in the eighth. It was a second time in five relief appearanaces during September that he logged two scoreless innings.
“Dustin’s really grown quickly. We’re kind of accelerating his runway and putting him in some spots and seeing how he responds,” Roberts said.
“He’s making big pitches when he needs to. To go out there and throw two innings, that was really good to see. For a young pitcher to make pitches against really good hitters — that’s a team over there that’s a playoff contending team — every time he goes out there we continue to like more and more of him.”
A starter throughout his career, May’s introduction to the bullpen has come with some lumps. His first time pitching in relief resulted in allowing a grand slam and blown lead against the Atlanta Braves.
Another appearance was then cut short when May was struck in the head by a line drive. He not only avoided serious injury but vowed the incident would not have any lingering effects. May has supported that by allowing five hits and collecting eight strikeouts over six innings pitched in his past four games.
Considering May has not started sine Aug. 26, it would appear his best chance to make the Dodgers’ postseason roster is as a reliever. Pedro Baez, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Adam Kolarek, Ross Stripling and Julio Urias can be considered presumed locks in the bullpen for October.
The final three spots on the pitching staff then figures to be some combination of Caleb Ferguson, Dylan Floro, Gonsolin, Rich Hill and May.