Editor’s note: This is the Thursday, May 18, 2023, edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.
Good morning. The Dodgers’ pitching staff took a hit yesterday when Dustin May left the game after one inning with pain in his right elbow. They’ll survive, but maybe in a different way than we’re used to. Let’s look at that after a glance at a lot of other Southern California sports news.
Previewing Lakers-Nuggets: The Lakers are getting ready for Game 2 in Denver, with a start possible for Rui Hachimura after his success guarding Nikola Jovic late in the Nuggets’ Game 1 win. Columnist Jim Alexander called for the Lakers to make up for an “unacceptable” lack of urgency early in Tuesday’s game.
Previewing the Sparks’ season: Beat writer James Davis poses key questions for the team going into its opener Friday against Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi and Phoenix. Columnist Mirjam Swanson looks at why the WNBA might struggle to capitalize on college women’s basketball’s popularity.
On the scoreboard: The Angels were stymied by an old friend in Baltimore, although a home run eased Mike Trout’s slump. LAFC lost a lead and drew with Kansas City, while the Galaxy’s road drought continued in Columbus. JSerra High (San Juan Capistrano) vs. Santa Margarita in the Division 1 baseball title game Friday in Long Beach highlights the schedule of CIF Southern Section baseball and softball finals.
Off the field: The Dodgers withdrew an invitation for the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to receive an award at LGBTQ+ Pride Night at Dodger Stadium on June 16. The invitation to the gay activist group, a self-described “order of queer and trans nuns,” drew criticism by some Catholic leaders and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and a Dodgers release on the reversal cited “the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening.” The team of Jackie Robinson didn’t use to give in to the strong feelings of people offended by inclusion.
Now, back on the field with the Dodgers, whose 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins was overshadowed by Dustin May’s injury.
May was diagnosed with an elbow strain and projected to miss at least a month of games, manager Dave Roberts said. That’s doubly disappointing for May because he was in the middle of a successful return (4-1, 2.63 ERA) from Tommy John surgery. And it’s a pain for the Dodgers, who already face questions about Noah Syndergaard (1-3, 5.94 and dealing recently with a blister or cut on his index finger) and the possibility of Clayton Kershaw missing a start when he goes on the bereavement list following his mother’s death.
Together, Kershaw (6-3, 2.52), Julio Urias (5-3, 3.61) and Tony Gonsolin (1-1, 1.42) and May have gone 16-8 with a 2.81 ERA, while other starters are 1-4 with a 6.87 ERA, and the pitching staff overall ranks lower than usual at sixth to 10th in the major leagues in the important numbers.
Solutions? Well, Walker Buehler is talking about coming back sooner than expected from Tommy John surgery, but that would mean September, not now.
What will be interesting to watch is what this means for the four top pitching prospects in the Dodgers’ farm system at Oklahoma City.
When beat writer Bill Plunkett analyzed Dodgers pitching depth in March, he said: “The difference this year seems to be that what depth the Dodgers have is largely young and unproven. But those young arms – Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone – are dynamic.”
The month before, Plunkett wrote: “Three of them – Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone – will almost certainly figure into the rotation at some point this season.”
He added: “Miller and Stone are among the top pitching prospects in baseball with dynamic pitch mixes but limited experience as pros (two seasons each).”
Grove went on the injured list (groin) April 21 after making four starts while Gonsolin was getting ready to begin the season, and Pepiot went on the 60-day IL (oblique) March 27.
So the Dodgers’ starter when May’s turn comes up again Monday in Atlanta could be Stone. It would be the second major-league start for the 24-year-old right-hander, who gave up five runs in five innings of a game the Dodgers wound up winning against Philadelphia on May 3.
Only Cleveland has as many pitchers ranked as high as the Dodgers have on MLB.com’s top prospects list.
As Bill Plunkett wrote in February, their futures on the mound at Dodger Stadium are likely to arrive this season.
In at least one case, that future is about to begin.
Lakers try to avoid a 2-0 deficit against the Nuggets in Denver (5:40 p.m., ESPN).
Angels seek a split of four games in Baltimore as Tyler Anderson seeks his first winning decision since April (9:35 a.m., BSW).
Dodgers and Julio Urias open a tough, 10-game trip to St. Louis, Atlanta and Tampa (4:45 p.m., SNLA).
UCLA’s baseball team is at Arizona State to begin the final series of a disappointing conference season (7 p.m., Pac12LA).
BETWEEN THE LINES
With the top five pre-playoff favorites knocked out, Stanley Cup futures betting is wide open going into the NHL conference finals. Carolina is the +200 favorite to win it all, Florida +350 going into those teams’ eastern series opener tonight. Vegas is +240, Dallas +300 before their western series opener Friday.
“Clayton Kershaw getting more done before 9 a.m. than you will all day.” — Baseball writer Doug Padilla tweeting a photo of the pitcher working out in the outfield before the Dodgers’ and Twins’ afternoon game at Dodger Stadium yesterday.
High Rider: Roosevelt High (Los Angeles) shortstop Omar Robles reaches for a throw as Narbonne (Harbor City) runner Sergio Padilla slides safely into second base during Narbonne’s 7-6 victory in a CIF L.A. City Section Open Division first-round playoff game yesterday. Photo is by SCNG contributor Robert Casillas.
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