It was May Day in Los Angeles on Thursday.
After ace Clayton Kershaw was scratched just hours before his scheduled Opening Day start due to back stiffness, the Dodgers called on rookie Dustin May to take the hill against the Giants, and the 22-year-old -- who was reassigned earlier in
It was May Day in Los Angeles on Thursday.
After ace Clayton Kershaw was scratched just hours before his scheduled Opening Day start due to back stiffness, the Dodgers called on rookie Dustin May to take the hill against the Giants, and the 22-year-old -- who was reassigned earlier in the day -- proved up to the task in the team's 8-1 victory at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine.
"For me, it was just nice to get the first one under the belt. I mean, starting the season -- it was great," May told the media after the game.
"It was awesome to get the nod to come in and throw. It’s kind of the thing you dream about growing up is throwing on Opening Day."
Los Angeles' second-ranked prospect became the first Dodgers rookie hurler to start on Opening Day since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. May allowed a run on seven hits while fanning four over 4 1/3 frames. The righty did not walk anyone and threw 46 of his 60 pitches for strikes.
“When a change in plan happens, Dustin adapts very well,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told MLB.com before the game.
The 2016 third-round selection had his 70-grade heater on display early and often as he flashed 99 mph throughout the opening inning and touched triple-digits in the second. After a fielding error by shortstop Corey Seager allowed Mike Yastrzemski to reach on the first pitch of the game, May escaped the frame unscathed on 11 pitches.
"I was anxious," he said after the game. "Just not being able to be in a game scenario since pretty much October. I mean we’ve had intrasquads, but it’s not really the same as facing other opponents and having the stats matter at that point. But it was just the anxiousness of wanting to get started, and once the first pitch was thrown, I was all good and ready to get going."
The right-hander notched his first punchout on a 2-2 fastball that blew past the swinging bat of Joe McCarthy at 99.7 mph to lead off the second. It reportedly was faster than any strikeout pitch recorded by a Dodgers pitcher last year, and set up retiring the side in order.
The 6-foot-6, 180-pounder was in a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the third after yielding three consecutive singles to start the inning. But after a sacrifice fly by Pablo Sandoval, May whiffed Alex Dickerson on four pitches and coaxed Hunter Pence to ground out to third to minimize the damage.
"He wasn't nervous or intimidated by the amount of cardboard we had in the stands tonight," Enrique Hernández told the Orange County Register referring to the cardboard cutouts of fans on the seats behind home plate.
After mowing down the side in order again in the fourth, MLB.com’s No. 23 overall prospect gave up consecutive base hits to start the fifth before fanning Wilmer Flores on four pitches. May was replaced by Caleb Ferguson, who worked out of the trouble, and the Texas native did not factor into the decision.
"For the most part I was getting ahead and guys were swinging, and they were very aggressive tonight, and I went into that knowing," May said. "They just hit a few where they weren’t, and for the most part, I was hitting my spots and stuff was going the right way."
With his late callup, he became the 12th of baseball’s Top-100 prospects to appear on an MLB Opening Day roster this year. May picked up end-of-season All-Star honors in his previous two Minor League campaigns -- in 2018 with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and in 2019 with Double-A Tulsa as well as being a Futures Game selection last season. He appeared in Dodger blue for 14 games last year, posting a 3.36 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP and 32 whiffs while limited opponents to a .250 average over 34 2/3 frames.
Following an offseason trade, Brusdar Graterol made his Dodgers debut by closing out the win on eight pitches in the ninth. L.A.’s fifth-ranked prospect worked around a leadoff base hit by Dickerson, getting Pence to ground into a 1-4-3 double play and rolling over McCarthy on a first-pitch breaking-ball groundout to end the game. The husky righty was acquired from the Twins as part of a deal for Kenta Maeda after the original three-way swap between Minnesota, Los Angeles and Boston -- that would have sent the 21-year-old to Beantown -- fell through.
Right-hander Dany Jimenez made his Major League debut with the Giants on Thursday. San Francisco’s 29th-ranked prospect allowed a run on three walks, but fanned Mookie Betts with the bases loaded to end the seventh. The 26-year-old spent his first five pro seasons in the Blue Jays organization, posting a 3.43 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP in 104 games. The native of the Dominican Republic whiffed 257 and walked 71 while limiting opponents to a .207 average over 197 Minor League frames. He was claimed off waivers by the Giants on Dec. 12.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.