Yoshinobu Yamamoto made Rangers' Nate Lowe look like amateur in Dodgers debut

Feb 17, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (18)
Feb 17, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (18) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Over Tuesday and Wednesday, the Dodgers sent out Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, their $1 billion men, out on the field in spring training in back-to-back games. Ohtani lived up to expectations by doing exactly what he does best — homering in his third at-bat — and Yamamoto followed the next day against the Rangers as an unknown quantity.

Yamamoto was one of the most decorated pitchers in NPB history at only 25 years old, and his transition to MLB, which is different from Japanese baseball right down to the baseball itself, has been watched very carefully by fans and the team alike.

He took the mound on Wednesday just after noon and immediately unloaded a fastball that blew past Marcus Semien, who ended up striking out swinging on three pitches. World Series standout Evan Carter got the Rangers' first hit of the day with a single to center field, but Yamamoto came out on top when he got Wyatt Langford to ground into a double play to end the inning.

Yamamoto was back again for his second and likely final inning of the game, facing Nathaniel Lowe to kick off the bottom of the second. Like with Semien, Yamamoto fired two that Lowe swung and missed at, and then the strikeout splitter was dealt, and Lowe seemed stunned. He took a half-hearted swing as the ball plummeted for the strikeout.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto gets Rangers' Nathaniel Lowe to totally whiff in Dodgers debut

Yamamoto dealt with the next two Rangers batters quickly. Jonah Heim flew out on the first pitch he saw, then Leody Taveras went down on yet another swinging strikeout (his swing looked a lot like Lowe's confused whiff) for three on the day against the defending World Series champs. It was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of inning; the Rangers barely had time to breathe between batters before everyone was heading back to their dugouts. Yamamoto left the mound with a smile.

There have been some reasons to worry about his transition: the baseball is different and pitchers in Japan start once a week as opposed to every five days. However, if his Dodgers debut is anything to go off of, he looks good — very, very good. The Rangers just looked completely dazed as they missed fastball after fastball and were cut down by breaking pitches. If this is replicable, which all signs point to it being, then opposing hitters should be very afraid.