Brandon Gomes: Dodgers Open-Minded About 6-Man Starting Rotation

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The Los Angeles Dodgers added another ace to their starting rotation with the signing of Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a record-setting 12-year, $325 million contract.

The 25-year-old was one of the most sought-after free agents in MLB history after being posted by the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). Yamamoto finished his career in Japan with a third consecutive Eiji Sawamura Award and three Pacific League MVPs in a row.

While the consensus is that Yamamoto will have a smooth transition to MLB, some scouts are concerned about the adjustment to pitching every fifth day. Starters in Japan typically only take the mound once per week.

Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said the team will discuss the possibility of using a six-man rotation during the 2024 season to help Yamamoto get accustomed to the Majors. “I think one thing we’ve done really well over the years is make sure our pitchers have enough rest,” Gomes began.

“So that’s something that we’ll continue to talk about and make sure that everybody’s just in the best position to perform. We’ve been fortunate enough to have depth to be able to drop guys in when needed. And it’s something we’ve done in the past. So we’ll be nimble on that front.”

The Dodgers have utilized a six-man rotation at times in the past to give their starters extra rest. It could be a strategy the team uses going forward, especially when Shohei Ohtani returns to the mound in 2025.

The Los Angeles Angels relied a six-man rotation through Ohtani’s tenure, and with a strong group of arms, it makes sense for the Dodgers to utilize one as well.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts does not believe workload will be an issue for Yamamoto as other Japanese pitchers before him showed they could handle the change.

“I think for me, one of the things is the workload. I think the main thing is that in Japan, they pitch once a week. And so I think that’s the thing that’s probably the biggest adjustment,” Roberts said. “And talking to whether it was (Hideo) Nomo, whether it was (Kaz) Ishi, whether it was (Kenta) Maeda, and now, kind of seeing the adjustment.”

The Dodgers will make an effort to protect their newest ace, along with trying to keep Tyler Glasnow healthy, so they will once again rely on their pitching depth in the 2024 season and beyond. The club is also reportedly still looking to add to their rotation, even after the two impact moves with Yamamoto and Glasnow.

Dodgers confident Yoshinobu Yamamoto will find routine

Aside from potentially pitching more frequently, scouts are worried about Yamamoto’s durability due to his smaller frame. However, others believe his clean mechanics and unique training regimen will mitigate any injury risk.

“Yeah, I mean, I think being able to watch Yoshinobu pitch, this stuff is special, and the command is something that I haven’t seen,” Gomes said. “It is up there with the upper echelon of guys that can command the baseball.

“So there’s no question in our mind that his commitment and dedication to taking care of himself that he will get in a good routine, and on that rotation schedule at some point, and that’s just something we can talk through more as a group.”

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