Dodgers Fifth Starter Options to Replace Injured Dustin May

The collective pulse of Dodgers Nation stopped on Saturday evening when Dustin May threw a pitch, winced in pain, and immediately removed himself from the game. As we enter the second month of the season, the Dodgers have had more than their fair share of injuries around the club, but the injury bug has bitten the pitching staff particularly hard.

And now, May is out with what appears to be a potentially devastating elbow injury.

Still, the season trudges on and the team will need an arm to take his spot in the rotation every fifth day. Here are the best internal options in the organization.

Options and Break Downs

Edwin Uceta

The rookie right-hander just made his MLB debut as a spot starter on Friday. He tossed two innings and allowed two runs on a home run. As the Dodgers wait for some other options to get healthy, the 23-year-old can potentially eat some starts and innings for a few weeks.

Jimmy Nelson

Nelson was fighting for a spot in the rotation throughout spring training but ultimately found himself in the bullpen. While he’s been hardly spectacular, he’s been more than serviceable in relief for LA. But, with all the injuries that have afflicted the Dodgers early this season, he’s become an important part of the bullpen. Particularly after the loss of setup man Corey Knebel.

Josiah Gray

The club’s top pitching prospect has been knocking on the door for an opportunity with the big club over the last two seasons. Gray had a rough showing this past spring, allowing 7 runs in 5.1 innings pitched, but he was LA’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019 and has big league ready stuff.

One thing working against the right-hander is that he’s not currently on the 40-man roster. However, the club can easily place Knebel on the 60-IL (he’ll be out “months”) if Dave Roberts and the Dodgers opt for this option.

On the Mend

Tony Gonsolin

The World Series champion Catman was the first casualty for the Dodgers in 2021. He hit the IL with shoulder inflammation during the first series of the season in Colorado. Because Colorado is the absolute worst.

Doc’s most recent updates are promising for Gonsolin. The right-hander threw about 20 pitches off a mound on Thursday and will progress to about 35 pitches in his next outing coming as soon as Monday or Tuesday. Tony will still need to build his pitch count and face live hitters likely in a game situation, which could put him out for another three or four weeks in the best case scenario. That, of course, depends on how aggressive the organization chooses to be with the 26-year-old.

David Price

The veteran Price likely would have been in the rotation if he didn’t tell the club he was fine with pitching out of the bullpen this season. However, he’s on the injured list with a hamstring issue and could be a week or two away in his best case scenario.

Final Thoughts

The fan in me would love to see Josiah Gray make his debut because it’s great for baseball. But, knowing these Dodgers, they’re more likely to opt for the conservative, player development drive route with Jojo and have him start his season at Triple-A, not the big leagues.

One more out of the box thought on this, May’s injury could have perhaps cracked a window open to a conversation that sees Trevor Bauer get his wish and start every fourth day. Something he’s been vocal about since last season with the Reds.

With that, Edwin Uceta could likely fill some starts while Price or Gonsolin make their way back to the active roster. Notably, the team has scheduled three off days over the next two week affording them the opportunity to move some people up in the rotation.

NEXT: Mookie Betts Will Bounce Back

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.


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    • What’s happened with May and other pitchers and players on IL, together with an offense that’s non existent and one should understand that a WS repeat this year is gone. Dodgers could miss October all together because that has certainly happened with most defending WS winners.

  1. They need to start playing smart baseball like bunting and moving guys over on the bases and also go against the switch and hit to the opposite side of the field. They sit waiting for the walk like Muncy and Turner do. Work with Rios on making his long swing shorter. He strikes out too much trying for the homerun!!!! Roberts should learn to manage the guys and hire better hitting coaches.

  2. Dustin May showed the best stuff on the entire staff. They are OK for the next 2 weeks with off days. Gonsolin and Price piggy-back combo sometime after that. Maybe 2-3 weeks before that happens. 3-4 starts will have to be pitched by somebody after the 2 weeks are up and before Gonsolin/Price come back. Maybe a bullpen game or two. 14 pitchers may become their norm for a while.

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