It was a hectic week for Dodgers rookie pitcher Dustin May, to say the least. Just a few days ago, he was told he’d be optioned and would begin the 2020 season at the alternate training site, getting work in until his number would be called.
It’s safe to say, he didn’t expect for it to be called so quickly.
Just days after being optioned, May was recalled as the Dodgers placed Clayton Kershaw on the injured list. With LA’s Opening Day starting spot vacant, the spot was given to May.
Dustin May will make his first career Opening Day start and will become the Dodger rookie to start on Opening Day since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.— Alanna Rizzo (@alannarizzo) July 23, 2020
“It was nice to get the first one under the belt,” May said following the game. “It was awesome to get the nod. It’s the kind of thing you dream about growing up, throwing on Opening Day. It’s a super exciting thing. It’s great to get the ball going forward, for sure.”
As mentioned, May wasn’t expecting to be in the starting rotation to begin the season, let alone be the starter for the Dodgers on Opening Day, especially after being optioned. He said that he was told on Wednesday that there was a real possibility he’d be getting the start.
“He’s a very confident young man,” Dave Roberts said. “When a change of plans happens, Dustin adjusts very well.”
Given the circumstances, he sure did. May threw 4 1⁄3 innings before being removed in the fifth. He allowed only one run while striking out four.
“He did amazing,” his teammate Mookie Betts said. “I faced him not too long ago. I knew what he had and how he was going to use it. He did an amazing job on short notice. Putting up a lot of zeroes. He allowed one. You can’t really ask for anything more. With the offense we have, we’re going to win a lot of games if they’re putting up one.”
As expected, May was anxious to make his first career Opening Day start. “Not being able to be in a game scenario since October, the anxiousness of wanting to get started. Once the first pitch was thrown I was all good.”
Though he allowed seven hits and a run, May thought that he overall had a solid outing. He said he probably could have thrown more off-speed pitches earlier in the game, but he was hitting his spots so he felt fine.
“I was getting ahead, guys were swinging,” May said. “They were very aggressive tonight. They hit a few where they weren’t. For the most part, I was hitting my spots and stuff was going the right way.”
Roberts spoke very highly of May, knowing how difficult it must be from being optioned to all of a sudden being thrown right into the fire of making the start on Opening Day. “Can’t say enough about Dustin,” Roberts said. “We knew the head, very strong of mind. Obviously the stuff speaks for itself. I said it earlier, he’s unflappable. He pitched big for us in the playoffs. To kind of get the ambush notice before Opening Day, to be unfazed was special, pretty fun to watch.”
May has thrown in pretty big games for the Dodgers already, as Roberts mentioned he’s already thrown for them in the postseason. However, May showed that he can thrive under different circumstances as well.
Kiké Hernandez recapped May’s outing perfectly. “He wasn’t nervous or intimidated by the amount of cardboard we had in the stands tonight.”
Oh, and just take this, for what it’s worth.