Mark Prior: Dodgers Look For Pitch Tipping That Is ‘Actionable For A Hitter’

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Yoshinobu Yamamoto made his much anticipated debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, and it went about as well as anyone could have hoped for.

Yamamoto threw two innings while striking out three and giving up just one hit. However, he ended up facing the minimum after getting a double play in the first inning.

While the right-hander impressed in his short outing, the possibility of him tipping pitches did come up as those watching on the SportsNet L.A. broadcast were able to see Yamamoto’s pitch grip in his glove. No runner made it to second base against Yamamoto, so it didn’t become more of a problem in the game.

When asked about the concern, Dodgers pitching coach Mark Prior said the Dodgers are always trying to keep an eye out for different ways a pitcher might be tipping their pitches, and more importantly, which ones hitters can actually use to their advantage, he said via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:

“There’s always different things that you’re looking for,” Prior said. “What can hitters actually see? What can hitters actually react to in time? Do you need a runner on second base? So there’s different variations of tipping. Sometimes it’s glove. Sometimes it’s tempo. Sometimes it’s a guy sticking his tongue out. So there’s all different types of things. At the end of the day, you’re trying to figure out what is actually actionable for a hitter to act on in real-time.”

The Dodgers don’t seem overly concerned about Yamamoto tipping pitches for it to work against him in a game, but similar scenarios have also come up around MLB, and even with a few former Dodgers pitchers.

Kenley Jansen has had a few cases in his career where he intentionally let a runner advance from second to third base because he was worried they were stealing his pitches from second base. Craig Kimbrel has also followed in those footsteps as well.

However, it’s much easier for a closer to give up an extra base to protect their pitches without it coming back to hurt them than it would be for a starter, and the scenario would also come up far more often for a starter.

The TV cameras are also able to pick up different things than a runner might be able to, but it’s something the Dodgers will need to be aware of and keep an eye on. If runners at second are able to relay what pitch Yamamoto is throwing, then it will be something he and the Dodgers have to address.

Bruce Bochy impressed by Yoshinobu Yamamoto

The Dodgers have touted Yamamoto’s 80-grade command, and he showed that off by landing 16 of his 19 pitches for strikes. His performance was noted by Dodgers staff, but also earned praise from Rangers manager Bruce Bochy.

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