The Dodgers were hoping for incremental improvements out of Dustin May on Friday night.
Over five hitless innings, the hard-throwing right-hander delivered much more.
In his best start since returning from Tommy John surgery last month, May was as clinical as he was overpowering in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win over the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.
His fastball command was much more consistent than in his first four starts, as he walked just one batter while finding the zone with 40 of 69 pitches.
His secondary stuff was sharper, using his curveball and changeup to help rack up four strikeouts.
And with an uptick in velocity that included a couple of pitches over 100 mph, Giants hitters looked helpless, failing to record a hit against him in five innings while managing only a handful of hard-hit balls.
May was pulled to begin the sixth only because of a pitch count limit. Roberts had said pregame the 25-year-old wouldn’t go past 75-80 pitches. And even with a zero in the Giants hit column, he decided to replace him even sooner than that, summoning Alex Vesia from the bullpen to begin the sixth inning.
Vesia gave up an infield single to Luis González on a slow roller to second with two outs, ending the Dodgers’ ninth no-hit bid this season to go beyond five innings.
Tony Gonsolin update
Tony Gonsolin is hopeful he will be back before the end of the season.
When that will be, and in what role, however, remains unclear.
More than two weeks removed from going on the injured list with a right forearm strain, the Dodgers All-Star starter said his injury has finally started to noticeably improve, after a slower start to his recovery than he or the team was anticipating.
“The initial process took a little longer than expected, than I think we all wanted it to,” Gonsolin said on Friday. “But now I’m throwing bullpens and stuff and the bounce back has actually been pretty good. I’m not getting any more sore than I did before.”
After coming through a Wednesday bullpen session feeling good, Gonsolin is scheduled to throw another one on Saturday.
“Definitely making progress,” he said.
Progress toward what exactly is an even bigger question.
On Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts left open the possibility that, if Gonsolin’s recovery takes too long for him to build back up as a starter in time for the playoffs, he could come out of the bullpen in October.
Gonsolin said Friday he and Roberts had discussions about his potential role.
“There’s definitely different routes and forks in the road and we have to figure out which I may take,” he said. “The goal is just getting to that fork and deciding then.”
Either way, the pitcher will need to take another forward step on Saturday first.
Gavin Lux to return Saturday
Out since Sept. 1 because of a neck injury, Gavin Lux is expected to finally return to the lineup on Saturday, Roberts said.
While the team flew from Arizona to San Francisco after the conclusion of their series against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night, Lux stayed back and went to their Camelback Ranch facilities to take a full game’s worth of at-bats Thursday.
He said it went well, and Robert said the only reason Lux wasn’t in the lineup Friday was so they could ensure he bounced back all right.
Roberts said Lux will also play on Saturday, be off Sunday, then play again Monday and Tuesday.
Tommy Kahnle looks good since comeback
Roberts said the Dodgers were pleased by how reliever Tommy Kahnle has looked since coming off the injured list this week.
After missing four months with a forearm issue that cut short his return from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander pitched a clean inning on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks in which his trademark changeup was sharp and his fastball command was consistent.
The latter, according to Kahnle and Roberts, will be the veteran’s biggest key as he tries to round into shape ahead of the playoffs.
“What we saw the last outing was very good,” Roberts said. “We’ll continue to manage his workload, but we’re expecting him to be a leverage guy for us.”
Justin Turner wore no. 21 on Friday in honor of Roberto Clemente Day. Turner was the Dodgers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award this year. During the game, Turner also set a career-high in doubles, hitting two of them in his first three at-bats to give him 35 this season.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.