Dustin May excels in return from Tommy John surgery; Dodgers roll

Tommy John surgeries are so common, with hundreds of pitchers from high school to the big leagues undergoing elbow ligament replacement procedures each year, and the success rate (80% to 90%) is so high it’s almost routinely appears.

It’s anything but the grueling 16-month rehabilitation process, with its endless hours of strength and mobility exercises, painful scar tissue rupture and months of throwing progression, accompanied by an equally challenging mental component.

“The doctors did a great job on the surgery and the guys come back and perform, but as a player you feel isolated and ostracized like you’re not a part of the team,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

“I think we’re doing as good a job as anyone trying to make guys feel valued and relevant and getting them into town with us when we can, but it’s a tough road mentally. ”

Dustin May reached the end of that rehab road — and the beginning of what the Dodgers hope is a pothole-free path into the postseason — on Saturday night — when the hard-throwing right-hander returned from Tommy John surgery to make his first major league Start in 15½ months.

It was an encouraging first step as May survived a rocky 26-pitch first to beat the Miami Marlins by one hit and scored nine in five scoreless innings of a 7-0 win in front of 51,813 fans at Dodger Stadium.

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May delivers during the first inning on August 20, 2022.

Dodgers starter Dustin May gave up just one hit in five innings, knocking out the last 13 batsmen he faced.

(Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

Will Smith hit a three-run homer in the first and Justin Turner added a three-run shot in the third to give May a huge early cushion, who pulled back the last 13 batsmen he faced in the way of the Dodgers help improve their major league best record to 83-36, including a 38-8 mark since June 29.

Roberts said he expected May to take on the hill with “a little extra adrenaline and emotion,” and that was evident when May dropped a leadoff single to Joey Wendle and, after two strikes, JJ Bleday and Brian Anderson four pitches each to the Store led the bases.

But May hit Nick Fortes with a nasty 86-mile slide in the dirt to end the inning, and off it went by pulling the team back to just 45 squares in the next four innings.

May’s stuff looked as crisp as it did before the surgery, his double-seam sinking fastball averaging 97.4 mph and a top speed of 98.8 mph, his four-seamer averaging 98.2 mph and a top speed of 99.2 mph, and its tightly turning sliders broke sharply at an average of 85.6 km/h.

Will Smith (16) of the Dodgers is congratulated by teammate Trea Turner after Smith hit a three-run homer on Aug. 20, 2022.

The Dodgers’ Will Smith (16) is congratulated by teammate Trea Turner after Smith hit a three-run homer in the first inning.

(Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

He beat the side – Bleday with an 87 mph change, Anderson with a 97 mph sinker and Fortes with an 85 mph slider – in the fourth. Of his 71 pitches, 13 were swinging strikes and 16 were called strikes.

May made five minor league rehab starts for triple-A Oklahoma City, but Saturday marked his first major league appearance since May 1, 2021, when he winced in pain after losing one in his 27th place felt a shot feel down his arm during the Milwaukee game at American Family Field.

May immediately called Roberts and an athletic trainer to the mound and after a brief discussion he headed to the clubhouse. Two weeks later, May, who was 1-1 in five games with a 2.74 ERA and had 35 outs in 23 innings, lay on an operating table.

“I felt very sad for him,” Roberts said. “You talk about the talent, where we were, what he could have possibly done for us in the future… it was exciting. He threw the baseball to hell, and when it went down like that it was a gut punch to all of us.”

Justin Turner of the Dodgers hits a three-run homer in the third inning on Aug. 20, 2022. Marlins catcher Nick Fortes is at left.

Justin Turner of the Dodgers hits a triple home run in the third inning. Marlins catcher Nick Fortes is on the left.

(Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

May said his recovery process had been “very smooth” and that he did not stroke his arm when he returned to the game in July, refusing to allow himself “worries about setbacks” and vowing to “hold nothing back”.

That was evident on Saturday night when he overpowered a weak-batting Marlins team and easily outperformed his opponent Bryan Hoeing, who was making his major league debut in place of Braxton Garrett, who was scratched from a chest strain a few hours earlier in the game.

Things didn’t go well for Hoeing, a 25-year-old right-hander. One-out singles from Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman and Smith’s triple home run in the left field bullpen gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead in the first.

Freeman followed singles from Mookie Betts and Trea Turner with an RBI single in the third for a 4-0 lead. Two batters later, Justin Turner smashed a towering homer with three runs to the left to make it 7-0.

Danny Duffy not done yet

Reports of Danny Duffy’s death appear to have been premature. The veteran left-hander, who was recovering from a flexor tendon strain, felt a little uneasy playing against racquets earlier this month and Roberts said on Tuesday that it was “quite unlikely” that Duffy would be an option this season.

But Duffy’s fastball touched 93 mph in a one-inning simulated game in Arizona on Saturday. “There was just a little bit of pain,” Roberts said. “It was not my intention [to insinuate] that he was done for the year. I know Danny’s expectation is to eventually help us.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-20/dustin-may-excels-first-start-since-surgery-dodgers-rout-marlins Dustin May excels in return from Tommy John surgery; Dodgers roll

Emma Bowman

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