The Los Angeles Dodgers farm system has consistently been one of the best in baseball in recent years, and that remains the case in 2020.
One of their top prospects is young right-handed pitcher Dustin May, who fans became acquainted with when he made his MLB debut last August and became an essential part of the team’s pitching staff.
May made a few starts when he was first called up, but then settled into a bullpen role and was included on the Dodgers’ National League Division Series roster because of the success he had as a relief pitcher.
While he is expected to return to being a starter in 2020, it appears that some executives throughout the league believe he has a future out of the bullpen. In a poll conducted by MLB Pipeline, May received votes for “best future closer.”
He was tied for third among prospects in the survey, receiving 9% of the votes along with Forrest Whitley (Houston Astros) and Sixto Sanchez (Miami Marlins). Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) led the way with 17% while Nate Pearson (Toronto Blue Jays) was just behind at 13%.
All five of those prospects project to be top-of-the-rotation type starters, so it makes sense that executives are high on them as closers as well.
In 14 games (four starts) for the Dodgers in 2019, May went 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA, 2.90 FIP and 1.10 WHIP with 32 strikeouts and five walks in 34.2 innings. He pitched to a 5.11 ERA with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 12.1 innings across his 10 relief appearances but did not give up a single run in his final eight outings out of the bullpen.
May will have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation this spring. If he does not earn a spot then it will be interesting to see what the organization does with the 22-year-old.
The likely scenario is him beginning the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City to continue being a starter and pitching every fifth day, although his upside out of the bullpen could potentially allow them to utilize him as a multi-inning reliever as well until there is an open spot in the rotation.
Perhaps the biggest indicator if May will be able to make it as a starter long-term is if he can develop a consistent third pitch. His sinker and cutter are both dominant, and if his curveball comes around then he has legitimate ace upside.
If not, then May could become the team’s future closer as the executives in this poll believe is possible.
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