- Yamamoto finalized a massive, 12-year, $325 million contract with Los Angeles this offseason.
- The Dodgers believe he can become an ace in a strong Major League rotation.
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Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out three batters in two scoreless innings in his spring training debut against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Yamamoto gave insight into why the Dodgers believe the Japanese right-hander can become an ace in the Major League rotation.
The 25-year-old right-hander opened by striking out Rangers All-Star Marcus Semien on six pitches, then allowed a single to Evan Carter before Wyatt Langford grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Yamamoto started the second against the defending World Series champion by striking out Nathaniel Lowe on three pitches and retiring Jonah Heim with a fly ball to left field. Working with a long, deliberate swing and a fastball hovering around 90 degrees, Yamamoto finished his outing by striking out Leody Taveras on four pitches.
He threw 16 of 19 pitches for strikes, displaying the impeccable command that made him a star in Japan.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out three batters in his spring training debut.
Yamamoto, left, and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani signed massive contracts with Los Angeles this year.
Lowe and Taveras took particularly weak swings on strike three, highlighting Yamamoto’s dominance.
Yamamoto has been the least publicized part of a $1 billion offseason investment by the Dodgers in a pair of Japanese stars.
Los Angeles signed Shohei Ohtani to a record $700 million, 10-year contract in December, while Yamamoto finished his $325 million, 12-year contract a few weeks later.
Ohtani has played six seasons in Major League Baseball with the Los Angeles Angels, winning two American League MVP awards and making three All-Star teams. Yamamoto will make his US debut this season, although his recent performances in Japan have been phenomenal.
Yamamoto, who stands 5-foot-10, has been Japan’s most dominant pitcher in recent seasons, posting a 16-6 record and a 1.21 ERA for the Orix Buffaloes in 2023. He has a career 1.72 ERA in Japan in almost 1,000 entries. . His six-pitch repertoire includes a reliable splitter, an effective four-seam fastball and a ferocious curveball.
The Dodgers believe he has the talent to be a personnel ace in the US and his presence will be vital in 2024 as Ohtani, a rare two-way star, recovers from an elbow injury. Ohtani will hit in 2024, but he is not expected to pitch until 2025.