Dodgers News: Dave Roberts ‘Very Confident’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto Will Be ‘Frontline Starter’

Expectations placed on Yoshinobu Yamamoto were already high as a free agent but went soaring when he signed a record-setting 12-year, $325 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 25-year-old joined the team with plenty of fanfare after ending his career in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) with three consecutive Pacific League MVP and Eiji Sawamura Awards.

Yamamoto left several teammates in awe during a live batting practice session early into Spring Training, including Freddie Freeman, who called the right-hander “nasty.”

But Yamamoto proceeded to endure some growing pains during Cactus League starts and had a lackluster Dodgers debut in the Seoul Series.

When recently discussing the right-hander, manager Dave Roberts explained what has been impressive with Yamamoto and believing in his talent to be an MLB ace, per Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider:

“I’m very confident that he can be a frontline starter,” Roberts said. “I think the first thing I see is his ability to command the baseball with his fastball, he can throw to all quadrants. And then you look at the pitch mix, the weapons that he has — fastball curveball, slider, the split — and to be able to throw those for strikes, to get left-handed hitters out, right-handed hitters out. And the last part, he’s very intelligent, very curious, and he’s going to be prepared and understand how to attack Major League hitters.”

While Yamamoto projects to be an ace with the Dodgers, there will be somewhat of a learning curve as he is going to pitch every five or six days as opposed to his previous schedule of once per week in Japan.

Yamamoto is additionally adjusting to the MLB baseballs that are slightly bigger and slicker than the ones used in NPB. He previously said that he does not anticipate it taking long to get used to the new baseballs.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s Dodger Stadium debut

With Yamamoto starting in the Seoul Series, that aligned him to take the ball in the second game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, the Dodgers instead pushed Yamamoto’s Dodger Stadium debut back to Saturday. Roberts explained the decision was due to scheduling factors and not in response to Yamamoto’s struggles in his first start.

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