The Dodgers announced that they’ve placed scheduled Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw on the injured list and recalled right-hander Dustin May from their alternate training site. The team has termed Kershaw’s injury as “back stiffness” and will surely provide more details in the near future. Kershaw had been slated to take the hill against the Giants just under four hours from now. May will take the ball in place of Kershaw tonight.
Kershaw incurred his current injury in the weight room earlier this week, manager Dave Roberts tells reporters, adding that right now he’s unsure as to when the left-hander will be able to return (Twitter links via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com). May was made aware of the possibility of this switch last night, per the manager.
With Kershaw suddenly and unexpectedly shelved, the Dodgers’ rotation will now consist of May, Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias and Alex Wood. It’s still a talented group with plenty of intriguing option in reserve — Tony Gonsolin, Mitchell White and Josiah Gray among them — but it’s clearly a thinner group than anticipated just a few weeks ago when both Kershaw and David Price were still in the picture. That said, the ability to cultivate this type of depth is one of the reasons that the Dodgers have been so successful under the current front office regime.
In turning the ball over to the 22-year-old May, Los Angeles will entrust the season’s first start to one of MLB’s premier pitching prospects. The 6’6″ May made his big league debut in 2019, pitching to a 3.63 ERA with a 32-to-5 K/BB ratio in 34 2/3 frames before adding 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the NLDS. A third-round pick back in 2016, May notched a combined 3.38 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, including a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 frames in a supercharged Triple-A offensive environment.
May is widely regarded to be one of the game’s 25 best overall prospects, so it’s not as though the Dodgers are simply crossing their fingers and hoping that a minor league call-up can hold his own while filling in for an injured star. May is expected to be a key part both of the team’s future and its success in 2020, although he’ll obviously be asked to contribute sooner than the organization had initially anticipated.