Dodgers’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto ready to take his new aura on the road – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — With his devastating curveball on videotape after carving an MLB lineup and in scout reports around baseball, Yoshinobu Yamamoto is now surrounded by a different aura.

Highly decorated in his native Japan, where he was named best pitcher in each of the last three seasons as well as MVP, Yamamoto had been much less intimidating to begin his career in the major leagues. That started to change last Saturday.

The right-hander gets another start Saturday when he faces the Chicago Cubs on the Dodgers’ upcoming road trip that also includes the team’s stop in Minnesota to face the Twins.

Yamamoto just unleashed a positive curveball and allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in his first MLB win.

“I think my last outing went well and for the next one I think I had pretty good preparation,” Yamamoto said through an interpreter Wednesday after throwing a 20-pitch session . “I’m focusing on myself so I can go out there and do what I can do.”

After an uneven spring where he had an 8.38 ERA in 9⅔ innings, Yamamoto then struggled in his major league debut in South Korea when he didn’t even reach the second inning. The San Diego Padres rocked him for five runs on four hits and a walk in his only inning of work.

That 43-pitch outing led to his 68-pitch gem last week and leaves the Cubs with plenty to think about on Saturday. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Yamamoto made a subtle adjustment with his hands and success followed.

“I made an adjustment when I was in the set position, but I was more focused on staying calm and executing my throws,” Yamamoto said.

Now comes a trip to Chicago, where he will likely have to find a way to overtake compatriot Seiya Suzuki. The Cubs also have left-hander Shota Imanaga on their pitching staff.

“There won’t be many times to play them during the season and meet them, so I’m looking forward to it,” Yamamoto said.

In Japan, Yamamoto followed the traditional plan of launching one day a week. The Dodgers stuck to that, at least until Saturday’s outing, using a bullpen day Tuesday to ensure there was a buffer day before the rotation started again.

It will be harder to get a week between outings beyond Saturday, but Yamamoto will comply with whatever is asked of him, directing any questions about his upcoming schedule to the coaching staff.

All manager Dave Roberts would promise is that Bobby Miller will start the series opener Friday in Chicago, followed by Yamamoto and Gavin Stone. James Paxton will win the first game in Minnesota, followed by Tyler Glasnow.

Yamamoto could be in line to start again against the Padres at home on April 12, although another bullpen day next week could push that day further into a third straight Saturday start.


Still without a home run heading into Wednesday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants, all eyes are on Shohei Ohtani, with Roberts saying his new star appears to be in a good place mentally.

Questions about Ohtani’s comfort level have been raised since news broke last month that as much as $4.5 million of his money had been transferred to a local bookmaker. Ohtani said he was the victim of fraud perpetrated by former performer Ippei Mizuhara.

“As a coach, you may see players who are quite nervous or wandering aimlessly,” Roberts said. “But he’s very comfortable where he’s going, so I don’t see any sort of anxiety or unease on his part.”

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