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Yoshinobu Yamamoto Has Rough Start With the Dodgers

Yamamoto Had a Disappointing Debut, He Gave Up 5 Runs and Lasted Only 1 Inning

Yamamoto Dodgers Era

Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto had a Dodgers debut to forget in Game 2 of the Seoul Series today. Yamamoto lasted one inning and gave up five runs on four hits with two strikeouts and one walk. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.


Yoshinobu Yamamoto Has Rough Start With the Dodgers
Yoshinobu Yamamoto Has Rough Start With the Dodgers


Yamamoto, the Dodgers’ $325 million, 12-year investment, was down 2-0 after just nine pitches and needed 43 pitches to get out of the disastrous inning. The right-hander has a 45.00 ERA after allowing the most runs ever by a Dodgers starter in their MLB debut. The latest MLB news reveals that the five runs he gave up are also the most by a Japan-born starting pitcher in their first inning of work.

A Disappointing Start to Yamamoto’s MLB Career

Yamamoto faced nine Padres hitters before Michael Grove relieved him with the Dodgers trailing 5-1. The 25-year-old threw just 23 strikes, averaging 95.4 mph with his fastball. He went to his fastball 14 times and tried 11 cutters, 10 curveballs, and eight splitters.

Xander Bogaerts welcomed Yamamoto to the majors with a single to left on his first pitch. Then, Fernando Tatis Jr. was hit by a full-count splitter before Jake Cronenworth hit a triple into the right-field corner to give the Padres a 2-0 lead. Yamamoto then walked Manny Machado, which brought Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior to the mound to settle him down after just 15 pitches.

Prior’s talk didn’t work out as planned. Ha-Seong Kim hit a sacrifice fly and then a wild pitch advanced Machado. Yamamoto would record his first strikeout after throwing an inside cutter to Jurickson Profar.

The Padres caught a break in this Dodgers game when a Luis Campusano bouncer over third base got under Max Muncy’s glove and turned into an RBI double and a 4-0 lead. Yamamoto tried to settle down but Tyler Wade hit an RBI single to right to make it 5-0. A Yamamoto inside curveball struck out rookie Jackson Merrill, putting an end to his mess. To put it in perspective, last season, the Dodgers gave up five runs in the first inning just once.

It’s Too Early to Say That Yamamoto Is a Bad Investment

Yamamoto, a two-time Pacific League MVP for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, signed his Dodgers contract in December. As mentioned before, the Dodgers gave Yamamoto $325 million over 12 years, surpassing what teams like the Yankees, Mets, and Phillies offered him. Yamamoto’s contract has the largest guaranteed amount to a pitcher.

Yamamoto’s Spring Training performance was also concerning, as he posted an 8.38 ERA over 9 2/3 innings. He did record 14 strikeouts.

That said, the level of competition in MLB is unmatched and Yamamoto needs an adjustment period, his fastball intimidated his opponents in Japan but the batters he’s facing in the majors are used to pitches like that and won’t back down. Now we’ll see what Yamamoto is made of, but we can’t say that he’s a bust after just one inning of work at the highest level.

Yamamoto is in line to make his second start during the upcoming Dodgers homestand from March 28 to April 3, which includes four games against the Cardinals and three against the Giants.

Thursday’s 15-11 loss is not all on Yamamoto. Dodgers pitching in general was a mess, with six relievers combining to allow 10 runs in eight innings.

At the end of the day, it can’t be denied that Yamamoto’s contract comes with expectations to be among the best in the majors. Only time will tell if the Dodgers’ investment will pay off and he helps them win many MLB games.

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