Following the success of Kodai Senga transitioning from NPB to MLB, Yoshinobu Yamamoto has been every team’s favorite offseason item. He’s surpassed Shohei Ohtani as the player atop of my Mets’ wish list. While there’s some concern about signing Yamamoto necessitating the Mets having to use a 5.5-man rotation, the Mets likely have the depth starters to pull off that move. But what kind of pitcher is Yamamoto?
Yamamoto’s arsenal is deep and it’s electric with a pitch mix that attacks the zone more vertically, than horizontally. He fits the profile of power pitchers that teams desire. He has velocity along with a killer breaking ball and offspeed pitch; the three make him hard to hit and, with his control, he rarely gives up free passes.
As Yamamoto transitions to facing MLB hitters, he might opt for more high four-seams and more reliance on his curveball as a change of pace early. The MLB ball is slightly bigger and less tacky than its NPB counterpart, and we could see his usage possibly change by adding in more cutters and sliders while he adapts his splitter. However, it is worth mentioning that he threw an MLB ball in the World Baseball Classic this spring with minimal issues.
With three double-plus offerings and elite command of all his pitches, Yamamoto has the chance to be a Top 10 or Top 5 pitcher in MLB next season. There are always questions about the transition from NPB to MLB, but Yamamoto is the most polished pitcher to make this transition.
Source: Brandon Tew, Sports Info Solutions
The Mets cut back on the pitches Senga threw early, only to have him add more back as the season progressed. If they were to sign Yamamoto, it’s easy to see them following the same blueprint. The article also noted that Yamamoto threw 138 pitches in Game 6 of the Japan Series, with his 133rd pitch clocked at 98 mph.
The full article is well worth reading, complete with multiple videos giving extra information about his pitching.