Could The Dodgers’ Dustin May Emerge As The Next Great Starter In 2020?

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The Dodgers are known for juggling their rotation and utilizing their depth to get through the rigors of a long, grueling season.  While 2020 will be a completely different animal, the fact that MLB could attempt to stack as many games as possible into a small time frame will only help to emphasize the need for depth in the rotation.  While the top three in Los Angeles’ rotation are virtually set in stone (Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and David Price), there are health questions among them and the final two spots are wide open with various options in the mix:

  • Alex Wood
  • Julio Urias
  • Ross Stripling
  • Jimmy Nelson
  • Tony Gonsolin
  • Mitchell White
  • Dustin May

It’s the last name on that list that arguably has the highest upside, and could even produce better results than someone like Price.  With an “A-“ grade, May ranked as our third best pitching prospect.  Listed at 6’6” May got his first taste of the Majors in ’19 (34.2 IP), though the bulk of his time was spent in the minors (106.2 IP between Double and Triple-A) where he showed all three skills we look for from a pitcher:

  • Strikeouts – 9.28 K/9
  • Control – 2.45 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 53.0%

You can argue the strikeout total, considering his 10.3% SwStr%.  However just look at this scouting report, courtesy of MLB.com, which shows just how promising the stuff is:

May has one of the best 1-2 combinations of pitches among prospects. He primarily works with a harder-than-usual two-seam fastball that sits at 94-98 mph and has plenty of run with heavy sink, and a cutter that he added in 2018 that parks in the low 90s. He also has a sharp-breaking power curveball that creates groundouts and a decent changeup that he’s still learning to trust.

With time and experience it’s easy to envision the strikeouts improving.  With pure stuff not a question, the now 22-year old should only continue to learn and improve.  He has the size that we look for and should be able to hold up to a full workload at the highest level.  He has always shown control (2.0 BB/9 over his minor league career) and the ability to get opposing hitters to bury the ball into the ground (53.0% minor league career groundball rate).  Even without any additional strikeouts, those two things would create a viable fantasy option.

While Walker Buehler spent significantly less time in the minors, the skills aren’t that different:

PlayerInningsSwStr%Walk RateGroundball Rate
Dustin May403.211.4%1.9853.0%
Walker Buehler109.212.3%3.2056.3%

While Buehler did show a little bit more in terms of swings and misses and groundballs, May’s better control can’t be undervalued.  He continued to show that in the Majors (1.30 BB/9), though there weren’t many swings and misses (8.7% SwStr%).  Even just getting back into the 10-11% could create a Top 30 starter, and if he takes the leap that is possible, a Top 15-20 starter (if not better) is there.

In other words you get a potential difference making starter, and while it may not come together until 2021 it’s a package you want to buy now while you can.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
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New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
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PositionLast Updated
Catcher04/13/20
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Shortstop04/17/20
Third Baseman04/20/20
Outfield04/24/20
Pitcher--

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