Following an early exit in Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Brewers, Dustin May was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with what the Dodgers are calling a “right arm injury.”
May was in the middle of an at-bat with two outs in the second inning when he visibly winced and signaled for the athletic trainer after throwing a pitch. Manager Dave Roberts described it as a “shooting sensation” in the right-hander’s pitching elbow and said that more would be known after May undergoes an MRI when the team heads to Chicago to play the Cubs on Monday.
“It’s still sore,” Roberts said of May’s arm prior to Sunday’s series finale.
Taking May’s roster spot is left-hander Mike Kickham, whose contract the Dodgers purchased Sunday. To make room for Kickham on the 40-man roster, right-hander Corey Knebel — who is expected to be out for months with a right lat strain — was moved to the 60-day IL.
“[Kickham is] a strike-thrower,” Roberts said. “He’s a veteran guy, been around. There’s a cutter against lefties into righties. There’s a changeup, and it’s a sinkerball, so it’ll change eye levels once in a while. But he’s a 90-92 [mph] command guy.”
Kickham has, indeed, been around, having spent the last nine years with five different organizations before joining the Dodgers as a free agent over the offseason. He debuted with the Giants in 2013-14 and spent the next five years exclusively in the Minors before pitching in six games with the Red Sox last year. As a non-roster invitee this spring, the 32-year-old threw 10 2/3 innings across four Cactus League appearances, allowing four earned runs and striking out 10 while yielding 11 hits and five walks.
After using all nine relievers Saturday — several of whom were appearing for the second or third straight day — Roberts said “there’s a long list” of guys he’d prefer to stay away from Sunday, making Kickham a likely candidate for a relief appearance.
As for the fifth-starter spot, Roberts indicated that having three upcoming off-days in the span of seven days could very well mean that the club will not need to fill that role for a couple of weeks. That extra time may be enough for Tony Gonsolin to work his way back from the IL, where he’s been since April 4 with right shoulder inflammation. All four Minor League levels begin their seasons Tuesday, giving Gonsolin multiple options for rehab venues.
“They’re both progressing,” Roberts said of Gonsolin and David Price, who has been out since Monday with a right hamstring strain. “The plan for us is to build Tony back up to being a starter — so you’re talking five [innings] and 75 [pitches] at the floor. And then David is coming along nicely, playing catch. I still see him getting back with us when he’s ready in the ‘pen. But Tony is the guy that we’re trying to build on.”
Although Price is not expected to factor into the rotation picture, Roberts suggested that the left-hander’s return could come sooner than the four-to-six week window that the team had originally expected.
• Infielder Zach McKinstry is “pain free,” per Roberts, but still not taking at-bats. McKinstry landed on the IL on April 22 with a right oblique strain.
• Right-hander Brandon Morrow is dealing with an arm injury that has put his latest attempt at a Major League comeback on hold. The reliever “hasn’t responded to treatment,” according to Roberts, and he has been shut down from throwing for several weeks now. Roberts cast doubt on the possibility of Morrow returning in 2021.
On Sunday, the Dodgers signed right-hander Aaron Wilkerson to a Minor League deal and assigned him to Double-A Tulsa. Wilkerson, 31, debuted for the Brewers in 2017 and spent the next three seasons bouncing between the Majors and Minors. He did not appear in the Majors in ‘20 and was granted free agency at the end of the season.
In 35 1/3 big league innings, most of which came in relief, Wilkerson has a 6.88 ERA (27 earned runs) and a 1.59 WHIP with 28 strikeouts. In parts of six Minor League seasons, where he has worked primarily as a starter, he has posted a 3.11 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 635 strikeouts in 624 2/3 innings. Wilkerson has a four-pitch mix, with a fastball that averaged 89.8 mph in 2019.