Major League Baseball

Dodgers’ top pitching prospect May set for debut

PADRES (50-58) AT DODGERS (72-39)
10:10 p.m. ET; SNLA, FSSD, MLB.TV

Top-flight Dodgers prospect Dustin May arrives ahead of schedule when he makes his major league debut against the San Diego Padres (+1.5) on Friday night in Los Angeles.

The 21-year-old right-hander was expected to reach the big leagues next season but the Dodgers are in major audition mode after being unable to enhance their pitching staff before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

May, the team’s third-round pick in 2016, is rated as the organization’s second-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City on June 27 and finds himself slated to pitch on a major league mound little more than five weeks later.

May was 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his five Triple-A starts — he was 3-5 with a 3.74 ERA in 15 starts at Double-A Tulsa before being bumped up — and manager Dave Roberts feels the intangibles are even better than the results with May.

“His makeup, the workload and the performance,” Roberts told reporters of May’s impressive attributes. “We’re all excited to see him make his debut at Dodger Stadium. We’re not concerned with how Dustin will handle this stage. The pulse will be fine. He can command the baseball. We just want to see how it looks.”

Even if May proves not ready to be a big-league starter, that wouldn’t mean he’s out of the postseason mix for a team that owns the best record in the majors at 72-39. Roberts said the club will also be analyzing whether the 6-foot-6 Texan would be a fit for the bullpen.

May, predictably, is fine with any role that has him drawing major league paychecks.

“If the time comes when I move to the bullpen, I’m 100 percent down for it,” May told reporters. “At the moment right now, I’m just focusing on my start and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

The Dodgers rolled to an 8-2 victory in Thursday’s opener of the four-game set. Rookie catcher Will Smith hit his first career grand slam, and Cody Bellinger hit his 35th blast of the season and drove in three runs as Los Angeles improved to 41-14 at home.

The setback was the 13th in the past 18 games for the Padres, who are fading toward missing the postseason for the 13th straight season.

San Diego manager Andy Green allowed left-hander Joey Lucchesi to bat with two on and two outs in the top of the sixth against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw with a 2-1 lead — Lucchesi grounded out — and things unraveled in the bottom of the inning.

Lucchesi was removed with the bases loaded and two outs and right-hander Trey Wingenter entered and served up the grand slam to Smith, who has six homers and 19 RBIs in 14 major league games.

“We had the lead,” Green told reporters of the decision process involving Lucchesi. “He had pitched well enough to earn the right to be in that game.”

Slugger Hunter Renfroe continues to be a bright spot for the Padres, and he smacked his 30th homer of the season.

Renfroe’s homer made him the 14th player in San Diego history to hit at least 30 in a season. It is the 20th overall 30-homer campaign by a Padres’ player.

Left-hander Eric Lauer (5-8, 4.52 ERA) will be on the mound for the Padres on Friday. He has lost his last four decisions since beating the Philadelphia Phillies (-1.5) on June 3.

The 24-year-old received a no-decision against the Dodgers on July 5, when he gave up two runs (one earned) and four hits over six innings. He has a 2.45 ERA in two no-decisions against the Dodgers this season after going 3-0 with a 0.92 ERA in three starts against them last season as a rookie.

Los Angeles rookie center fielder Alex Verdugo was scratched Thursday with a sore left knee and his availability for Friday is uncertain.

–Field Level Media

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