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Will Yoshinobu Yamamoto Struggle Transitioning To MLB?

Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Will Yoshinobu Yamamoto struggle to transition to MLB? Let’s provide a brief scouting report on everything you need to know about Yamamoto. (Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports)

Will Yoshinobu Yamamoto Struggle Transitioning To MLB?

Yoshinobu Yamamoto has made his decision and will take his talents to Los Angeles. The Dodgers may have won the free agency sweepstakes but what are they actually getting? Will Yamamoto struggle to transition to MLB? Let’s talk about it.

I think using Masahiro Tanaka as a comp is a fair comparison. Yamamoto has better numbers in Japan. However, Tanaka was known as a mentor for Yamamoto. The biggest concern here is probably if Yamamoto’s fastball can have the same level of dominance in the States.

For as good as Tanaka was, his fastball was actually viewed as a weak pitch. His offspeed stuff allowed him to be as dominant as he was. If you go back to Tanaka’s final season in MLB where he posted a 3.56 ERA, his fastball was still graded out in the 17th percentile and a -5 run value.

I’m not a Tom Verducci guy but he semi-recently did a very good mechanical breakdown on Yamamoto. The fastball for Yamamoto has a lot of late life but is he creating enough torque? Is he disguising it well enough to become a menace at the MLB level?

Yoshinobu Yamamoto
(MLB Network)

You can see in the screenshot above it’s an even table in terms of his throwing platform. Not much extra torque or disguise. Will it matter? Especially when you factor in that Yamamoto is 5-foot-10 and it’s not like he’s about to get some elite extension towards the plate making hitters think even faster.

I’m just not sure it will matter. The offspeed stuff is just too good for him to totally fail. Yamamoto probably has the grossest splitter you will see. The curveball is also incredibly nasty. He also has a beautiful sweeper that doesn’t get used often. I’d anticipate MLB teams will want him to throw that more frequently.

I think the most encouraging element to Yamamoto is the fact that he’s so repeatable in his delivery. He’s a consistent strike thrower and knows where to place the out pitches. A season ago, Yamamoto notched a 68.5% strike rate. He’s consistently getting ahead of hitters and putting them away. Oh… and he’s a great fielder too winning that type of defensive award in Japan too.

I don’t see how he fails. Especially with the splitter he has. There is a reason why guys like Kevin Gausman consistently perform everywhere. When you have a drop dead split like that, you’re always going to have success. Yamamoto held lefties to a .178 average and .424 OPS when featuring his split. That mark is even better against righties (.106 OBA and a .324 OPS).

Good luck facing this guy. I anticipate Yamamoto becoming one of the better pitchers in baseball. The Dodgers should feel confident in what they’re getting here. Even if it was more than they wanted to spend.

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