The Dodgers are pretty good at focusing on the here-and-now, taking the season one game at a time and having a “win today” mentality.
But it’s probably hard to not think about the future at least a little bit on a night like Saturday, when Dustin May dazzled the fans and dominated the Marlins in his first big-league action in over 15 months.
Manager Dave Roberts had a front-row seat to the action, watching as May got into and out of trouble in the first inning before dominating for four more innings, finishing with nine strikeouts in five scoreless innings.
It’s hard to imagine how this start could have gone much better for May. After the game, as reported by Fabian Ardaya in The Athletic, Roberts had some high praise for the fireballing young May:
“As a pure talent, he’s a game-changer. (But) I just don’t want to be the one to put any undue expectations on him solely on talent. So he’s got to go out there and pitch well.”
That seems like a departure from Roberts‘ quotes last week when he said he doesn’t view May as a “savior” for the team. But it’s not inconsistent to say you don’t expect pure dominance while still recognizing that pure dominance is definitely possible every time May takes the mound.
Roberts says May’s return, and his demeanor on the mound, helps give a boost of confidence to the entire team.
“This is a very confident young man who doesn’t run from it. I think that having a person believe in what he can do, and surpass any expectation that we might have for him, I think that gives us all confidence.”
With Walker Buehler out for the season and Clayton Kershaw‘s health in a never-ending state of uncertainty, May’s return comes at a huge time for a Dodgers pitching staff that has simultaneously been the best in baseball all year but also seemed like it was held together by duct tape for much of the season. A healthy May gives the Dodgers a bit more confidence heading into the postseason.
Dustin May may not be a savior, but a game-changer is just as good.
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