Yoshinobu Yamamoto throwing harder against the Yankees shows he was out for blood

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Yankees
Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

It's likely there's no love lost for Yoshinobu Yamamoto in the Bronx, and while Yankees fans are oftentimes irrational, in this case it's a bit more understandable. Yamamoto's second no-hitter of 2023, when he was pitching for the Orix Buffaloes of NPB, was attended by Brian Cashman and other Yankees execs, and he was courted heavily by the Yankees during his free agency. They went as far as to offer him a personalized No. 18 jersey in one of their last meetings with him before he eventually signed with the Dodgers.

Yamamoto was the starter on the hill for the first of three hotly anticipated games between the Dodgers and Yankees, and he seemed to take any potential animus the Yankees or their fans might feel toward him to heart. The start was his best to date, keeping the Yankees to just two hits and no runs while dropping his ERA to 3.00.

He also reportedly made an almost imperceptible change to his delivery, which had him throwing his fastball about 2 MPH faster than usual (averaging over 97 MPH). Only two of his seven strikeouts on the night were thanks to the fastball, but the Yankees were also notably late to it in other counts.

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The Dodgers went on to win that game 2-1 in extra innings thanks to a Teoscar Hernández two-RBI double that marked just the start of his absolutely explosive weekend in New York. Yamamoto went seven innings, his longest start to date, and only walked two batters, allowing just four men on base throughout his outing.

Yamamoto has already made a few adjustments and added a new pitch to his toolbox in his first year with the Dodgers, and going longer into starts is a good sign that he's really started to settle into his role in the majors, though he's still pitching with six days off between starts to align more closely with his one-start-a-week schedule in NPB.

The Dodgers crushed the Yankees in Game 2 of the series behind another great start from Gavin Stone, and lost Game 3 with Tyler Glasnow on the bump despite keeping things close (and at least the Dodgers broke their abysmal streak of not providing run support for him, dating back to May 4).

We should hope to see a lot more of whatever got into Yamamoto during his start against the Yankees. If he can keep dominating like that for the rest of the season, he might give Glasnow a run for his money as the Dodgers' postseason ace.