Dustin May left Petco Park on Thursday dressed as Pennywise from the movie “It” as part of the Dodgers’ team-wide costume flight to San Francisco. His face was painted white. He wore the silver outfit. He held the red balloon and let his long red hair go. It was frightening, and fitting after spending two days as a scary sight for the Padres.
May was perfect in two innings out of the bullpen in San Diego. The lanky right-hander overwhelmed the six Padres he faced with a 93-to-94-mph cutter and 98-to-99-mph sinker. He used the combination to elicit ugly swings and compile two strikeouts in each outing. He was dominant.
“Just a lot of life on the fastball,” catcher Russell Martin said. “Just overpowering guys. If he’s got that 98-mph fastball in the bag, it’s going to be a fun postseason.”
May, however, is not guaranteed to make the postseason roster. At least that has been manager Dave Roberts’ stance. According to Roberts, competition for the final spots in the bullpen remains open.
Those appearances boosted the 21-year-old rookie’s resume and were a significant checkpoint beyond the results: It was the first time May, a starter his whole life until last month, pitched on back-to-back days in his career.
“It was important,” Roberts said. “Because … you’re going to have to, at some point, potentially go back to back.”
May’s success in San Diego was a 180 from his first two experiences as a reliever. In his first relief outing, he allowed a grand slam. In his second, he got one out and left the game after taking a line drive off his head.
In seven appearances since the scare, all as a reliever, May has tossed nine scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts to one walk. He said the difference stems from simply learning how to operate as a reliever with help from his peers and trial-and-error adjustments.
“Just coming in with your A-plus stuff out from the get-go,” May said. “I got to come in guns blazing.”
The rapid evolution has propelled May’s chances of making the playoff roster. One more audition this weekend at Oracle Park likely remains to solidify his spot.
“He’s owning it,” Roberts said. “That means a lot, especially for a young player at this stage and trying to earn the opportunity.”
Joe Kelly throws off mound
Joe Kelly threw off a mound at Oracle Park on Friday for the first time since a vague “overall body” discomfort prompted a prolonged absence. While the right-hander’s command wasn’t precise, Roberts insisted he was encouraged by the bullpen session.
Kelly remains scheduled to pitch Sunday. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Sept. 18.
“I think we got out of it what we wanted,” Roberts said. “That was just kind of the intensity.”
Rich Hill looks ‘electric’
Rich Hill threw his standard bullpen session between starts Friday and all parties emerged encouraged. Roberts called the session “electric,” adding it was the best Hill has looked since re-injuring the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 12.
The 39-year-old left-hander grimaced through two innings Tuesday at San Diego, even doubling on his bothersome knee. He is slated to start and log three innings in the regular season finale Sunday at San Francisco before tossing a fourth in the bullpen.
If he emerges without further trouble, he is expected to start Game 4 of the National League Division Series scheduled for Oct. 7, if necessary. He would be cleared to throw four innings.
Justin Turner was not in the lineup for the third straight game. The third baseman felt back tightness during batting practice Wednesday. He took batting practice Friday, but Roberts wouldn’t commit to Turner starting Saturday. … Cody Bellinger (third) and Clayton Kershaw (12th) ranked among the top 20 jersey sales on Major League Baseball’s online shop this season, the league announced Friday.