Dodgers Pitching Coaches Leading Game Planning For Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Yoshinobu Yamamoto is tabbed as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No. 2 starter heading into the season and makes his MLB debut against the San Diego Padres in the second game of the Seoul Series.

The 25-year-old endured somewhat of a bumpy Spring Training, posting an 8.38 ERA and 1.97 WHIP in three starts. Yamamoto’s strikeout numbers remained high, tallying 14 in 9.2 innings pitched.

The Dodgers have emphasized patience with Yamamoto as he adjusts to life as an MLB pitcher, and manager Dave Roberts remains more intrigued by that process than concerned.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Roberts began. “I think obviously guys here have seen velocity and see velocity a lot. So Yoshinobu’s velocity is not going to alarm anyone. Now you’re talking about a curveball, a split, slider once in a while. I’m just very curious.

“I know the stuff is top end and the sequencing part of it is crucial and very important. I don’t know how much game planning he did back in Japan. One thing I do know is Japanese ballplayers have a tendency to spoil a lot of pitches and foul pitches off, which big league hitters do the same thing.

“So to be able to kind of get through extended at-bats and make good pitches is going to be a challenge. But because he’s had that experience in Japan, I think it’s going to help. So for me, I’m more just curious to see how he adjusts to each hitter and that cat-and-mouse game. They’re going to have to adjust to Yamamoto as well. So I’m just interested to see how all that stuff plays out.”

Yamamoto possesses some of the best offspeed stuff in baseball, but his issue in spring was getting batters to respect the fastball. Because of the various factors involved, Dodgers pitching coaches are taking on the brunt of preparing and scouting while striving for a balance in what Yamamoto is most comfortable throwing with what they believe will be effective.

“Obviously Yoshinobu knows his strengths, but I think in the early going we’ve done a good job of building trust in him, and him with us. I really think Mark Prior, Danny Lehmann are going to put together gameplans with the catchers, and I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of shaking (pitches off),” Roberts explained.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of trust and as he starts to learn hitters and do his own research and watch video, I think that will even out a little bit more. But I still think at the end of the day it’s more of us sort of driving him.”

Yoshinobu Yamamoto pleased with first Spring Training

Wrapping up his first Spring Training experience, Yamamoto expressed optimism surrounding his performance even with some struggles mixed in.

Yamamoto revealed that he had been working on several things, leading to some unfavorable results. However, his high strikeout numbers show a different light.

Getting used to a new baseball, his stuff has looked phenomenal in spurts, but the usual hiccups surfaced, resulting in an inflated ERA caused by subpar defense at times. Yamamoto noted that the Dodgers provided him with everything he needed to be prepared and focused when taking the mound.

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