Yoshinobu Yamamoto dominates in Dodgers spring debut

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Shohei Ohtani was also intrigued Wednesday by Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s exhibition debut, taking a 30-minute drive around the Phoenix suburbs in a white convertible to meet the fellow Japanese star, even though he wasn’t playing in the game. showed support for.

Mr. Yamamoto showed quite a performance.

The 25-year-old gave up two scoreless innings and struck out three batters against the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers, giving a glimpse of why the Los Angeles Dodgers believe the right-hander can become a major league ace. .

“I was just trying to do my job. I was trying to stay calm and focus on what I needed to do,” Yamamoto said through an interpreter.

Yamamoto opened He struck out All-Star Marcus Semien on six pitches.then gave up an Evan Carter single before Wyatt Langford hit into an inning-ending double play.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto kept the Dodgers scoreless. USA TODAY Sports (via Reuters Con)

Yamamoto struck out Nathaniel Rowe on three pitches and started the second inning, striking out Jonah Heim to left.

Yamamoto finished the game with a long, deliberate windup and a fastball in the mid-90s, striking out Leody Taveras on four pitches.

He threw 16 of his 19 pitches for strikes, showing the perfect command he has become known for in Japan.

Lowe and Taveras took particularly weak swings on strike three.

Otani was supportive of the performance, but seems to be a harsh critic.

When pitcher Yamamoto was asked how he judged Otani’s out, the pitcher grinned and answered, “So-so.”

Yamamoto is the lesser-known part of the Dodgers’ $1 billion offseason investment in the Japanese star.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (18) heads to the field before the game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. USA TODAY Sports (via Reuters Con)

Los Angeles signed Shohei Ohtani to a record-breaking 10-year contract worth $700 million in December, and Yamamoto signed a 12-year contract worth $325 million a few weeks later.

“I received full support from my Dodgers teammates who helped me adjust,” Yamamoto said. “That was easy.”

Ohtani played six seasons in Major League Baseball with the Los Angeles Angels, winning two American League MVP awards and being named to the All-Star team three times.

Yamamoto will be making his U.S. debut this season, but his recent performance in Japan has been phenomenal.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (18) met with designated hitter Shohei Ohtani. AP

The 5-foot-10-inch Yamamoto has been Japan’s most dominant pitcher over the past few seasons, posting a 16-6 record with a 1.21 ERA in 2023 with the Orix Buffaloes.

He pitched approximately 1,000 innings in Japan and has a career ERA of 1.72.

His six-pitch repertoire includes a reliable splitter, an effective four-seam fastball, and a brutal curveball.

The Dodgers believe he has the talent to be a staff ace in the United States, and will be essential in 2024 while Ohtani, a rare two-way star, recovers from an elbow injury.

Ohtani will hit in 2024, but is not expected to pitch until 2025.