What’s the baseball equivalent of being posterized? Buddy, you’re looking at it.
Take a seat, Manny Machado. The Padres third baseman may not be the most sympathetic figure in MLB—he’s gained a reputation for dirty slides including one that very likely facilitated the end of Dustin Pedroia’s career—but you almost feel bad for Machado here. Look at this devil magic. Like is that even legal?
Dustin May, the Dodgers’ youngest Opening Day starter since 1981 (16 years prior to the right-hander’s birth), has been performing sorcery like this on the regular in 2020, continually baffling hitters with his 99-mph heat. Catching up to a pitch that fast is hard enough, even for a $300-million perennial All-Star like Machado. Add in a little movement—okay, a LOT of movement—and you’re looking at an all-expenses-paid trip back to the dugout. Machado could have stepped to the plate with oven mitts and a fishing rod and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. This was strike three the second it left May’s fingertips.
If May’s strikeout of Machado—which occurred in the opening frame of Monday’s 2-1 Padres victory—looks familiar to you, it’s probably because May fanned Machado in nearly the exact same fashion last week in San Diego. Machado hadn’t whiffed that badly since Chris Sale got him swinging on the final pitch of the 2018 World Series.
Machado redeemed himself somewhat by swatting an opposite-field double in his next at-bat, finishing the night 1-for-4 including 1-for-3 against May. Meanwhile May submitted his second straight quality start for Los Angeles, scattering five hits and two earned runs over six stellar innings in the losing effort. The 22-year-old Texas native, who some have taken to calling “Gingergaard” (noting his resemblance to Mets starter Noah Syndergaard), has been among the sport’s hardest throwers, clocking an average fastball velocity of 97.8 mph this season. That ranks second to only reigning National League Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (98.6).