NPB: Yoshinobu Yamamoto, With Posting Potential, Pitches Gem Vs. Yomiuri Giants

Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes applauds fans after the Japan Series Game One at Jingu Stadium on October 22, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Orix Buffaloes starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto pitched a gem last night in the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan, beating the Yomiuri Giants of 2-1 in Nippon Professional Baseball action.

Yamamoto, who could sign with a Major League Baseball club this coming offseason, pitched eight innings, allowing four hits, one earned run, no walks, and six strikeouts on the way to earning his fifth win of the season.

Yamamoto’s record is 5-2 through eight starts, with 54.1 innings pitched, allowing 40 hits, one home run, 10 walks, and 57 strikeouts, with a 1.82 ERA during the 2023 NPB season.

Giants starting pitcher Yuki Takahashi received the loss during last night’s game as he threw 2.1 innings facing 13 batters allowing four hits, two earned runs, two walks, and striking out one batter during his performance.

In the bottom of the third inning, Orix put two runs on the board first as Tomoya Mori hit a two-run double to center field and Kenya Wakatsuki and Atsumasa Chano came in to score to go up 2-0.

During the top of the fourth inning, the Giants got on the board as Shoji Nataka smacked a single to left field and Hayato Sakamoto came in to score to make it 2-1.

The Giants offense did not show any more production, as they recorded five just hits in total during the loss. Reliever Daiki Kikuchi pitched 3.1 innings with no hits allowed, no walks, and five strikeouts in his appearance.

Yamamoto will be posted from the Japanese posting system through Major League Baseball after the 2023 regular season.

According to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors, “If Yamamoto is indeed posted for MLB teams, he’ll be subject to the NPB-MLB posting system, which grants all 30 teams equal rights to negotiate with the player but subjects the signing team to what, in the case of Yamamoto, could be a particularly steep posting fee. The MLB club that eventually signs Yamamoto would need to pay the Buffaloes a fee that is equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25 million, plus 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any dollars committed thereafter.”

Yamamoto has played six seasons for the Orix Buffaloes and has won the Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award twice, in 2021 and 2022, the Eiji Sawamura Award and pitching Triple Crown in the same seasons, two Pacific League Golden Glove Awards, and is a four-time NPB All-Star.

During the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Yamamoto helped Japan win their first gold medal in their nation’s history winning on home soil against the United States at Yokohama Stadium against the United States. Yamamoto started in two games with both starts resulting in two no decisions, recording a 1.59 ERA, throwing 11.1 innings allowing seven hits, walking two batters, and striking out 18 in route to the gold.

Yamamoto was also selected to the Tokyo 2020 All-Olympic Baseball Team during the Summer Games.

Last season, Yamamoto went 15-5 starting in 26 games, recording a 1.69 ERA with two shutouts and throwing 193 innings, allowing 137 hits, six home runs, walking 42 batters, and striking out 205,  helping Orix win the 2023 Japan Series over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in six games.

During the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Yamamoto was a key factor in Japan’s third WBC title, pitching in two games, recording a 2.45 ERA through 7.1 innings and allowing four hits, walking two, and striking out 12 with a 0.82 WHIP in the tournament.

The first place Pacific League Orix Buffaloes (31-21-2) will play their second game of their three-game series against the fourth place Central League Yomiuri Giants at 26-28 at 5 a.m. EDT at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan.

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