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MLB Notes: Yoshinobu Yamamoto Sidelined with a Shoulder Injury

The Dodgers right-hander threw 100 or more pitches in his four previous MLB starts before exiting a June 15 game against the Royals after the second inning.

There have been many first-time occurrences for Yoshinobu Yamamoto in his first MLB season.

Add this to the list: The Los Angeles Dodgers starter was placed on the 15-day injured list for the first time in his MLB career due to a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder on Sunday, June 16. A day earlier, he left the game after pitching two scoreless innings against the visiting Kansas City Royals.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Yamamoto won't be rushed back into action.

"His health is paramount," Roberts said, according to MLB.com. "So for us to be proactive and put him on the IL, kind of reset him, seems like the smartest move."

Through games of June 17, the Dodgers (45-29) sit in first place in the National League West with an 8½-game lead over the San Francisco Giants.

Yamamoto (6-2, 2.92 ERA) is one of four Dodgers starters with six or more victories: The others: James Paxton (7-1), Gavin Stone (7-2) and Tyler Glasnow (7-5).

A former Orix Buffaloes ace, Yamamoto threw 100 or more pitches in his four previous starts before exiting early against the Royals. An MRI revealed inflammation in his right shoulder, according to published reports.

Speaking through an interpreter on Saturday after his departure from the game, Yamamoto said: "During the game, my triceps started tightening up, so I let the coaches know." He also told reporters he "felt tightness" during his pregame pitching session in the bullpen. But, he continued, "it was not that serious at that point."

MLB
Yoshinobu Yamamoto (KYODO)

The Dodgers are Built for Success in MLB

By all accounts, the Dodgers have one of MLB's best starting rotations.

Adding the 25-year-old Yamamoto to the roster on a blockbuster 12-year contract ($325 million USD, or ¥51.4 billion JPY) this past offseason, the Dodgers further upgraded their talented pitching corps.

Roberts told reporters that the team is taking a wait-and-see approach on Yamamoto's condition.

"We will know more details as they become available," Roberts said, according to NHK. "But I don't think it is anything that will lead to a serious injury."

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MLB
The Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani slugs a sixth-inning solo home run against the Kansas City Royals on June 16. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SPORTS)

It's just a shoe!

MLB Superstar Ohtani on a Hitting Tear for the Dodgers

In his last seven games (June 11-17), Shohei Ohtani batted .360 (9-for-25) in competition against the Texas Rangers, the Royals and the Colorado Rockies. This included four home runs, six RBIs, five walks and two stolen bases. He had a robust .484 on-base percentage and a mighty .920 slugging percentage in that span.

Ohtani had his second two-homer game of the season on Sunday, June 16 against the Royals, belting a solo shot to center in the third and a bases-empty blast to right in the sixth in the Dodgers' 3-0 home triumph. He now has 19 home runs this season.

Los Angeles won two out of three games against Kansas City.

"I'm glad that we won the series," Ohtani was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. He added, "I've been working every day to try to make my swing right, so I'm glad that things are working out the way I'm hoping."

For Dodgers fans, there was joy and disappointment on the same day. In LA's win, leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, the team's starting shortstop, broke his left hand while batting in the seventh inning. A Dan Altavilla fastball ricocheted off his hand.

Betts, a seven-time All-Star, is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks while recovering from the injury.

With Betts sidelined, Ohtani took over as the leadoff hitter on Monday, moving up one spot in the batting order, against the Rockies at Denver's Coors Field. The pride of Iwate Prefecture went 3-for-5, including two doubles, and scored two runs in the Dodgers' 9-5 win in the series opener.

MLB
Chicago Cubs left-hander Shota Imanaga fires a pitch to a St Louis Cardinals batter on June 15 at Wrigley Field. (KYODO)

Cubs' Imanaga Delivers Another Stellar Pitching Performance

MLB rookie Shota Imanaga, who has started 13 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2024, remains one of the National League Rookie of the Year candidates as the season nears its midway point.

Imanaga improved to 7-1 with a superb 1.89 ERA after holding the St Louis Cardinals to four hits and a run in seven innings on Saturday, June 15. The steady lefty struck out six and didn't walk a batter in a season-high 103-pitch outing at Wrigley Field, where he's thrived in 2024.

Chicago trailed 1-0 after the Cardinals' Nolan Arenado hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but overcame the deficit in a 5-1 win.

How good has Imanaga been at the Cubs' famous ballpark this season?

He's 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 41⅓ innings. What's more, he's only walked two batters at Wrigley Field and registered 44 strikeouts.

After his latest start at the Windy City ballpark, Cubs manager Craig Counsell praised Imanaga for his exceptional performance against the Cardinals.

"He pitched an incredible game," Counsell said, according to The Associated Press. "I thought his fastball was so good today. Just his location with his fastball was excellent all day."

MLB
Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga and catcher Yan Gomes exchange fist bumps after the seventh inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on June 15. (KYODO)

A Successful June for Imanaga

In June, Imanaga is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts, bolstering his chances of being named to the NL All-Star team. The 2024 MLB All-Star Game is on July 16 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

On Saturday, Imanaga fanned Brendan Donovan to close out the seventh inning. Upon his departure from the game ― he walked off the mound pumping his fist ― Imanaga was pleased with the consistent quality of his pitches throughout the game.

"Getting to generate the same level of power until the end was a real positive," Imanaga was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. "I'd have ruined my teammates' efforts grinding out our runs if I had given up a run [in the seventh]."

Teammate Seiya Suzuki went 2-for-3 with a walk and scored a run.

MLB
San Diego Padres reliever Yuki Matsui in action against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at Petco Park on June 11. (Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Matsui Stays Busy with the Padres

San Diego Padres newcomer Yuki Matsui has pitched in 33 of the team's 76 games (through June 17).

Matsui, who previously played for NPB's Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles from 2014-23, shares the team lead in pitching appearances with Dominican reliever Enyel De Los Santos.

In 30⅔ innings, Matsui has allowed 20 hits, struck out 25 batters and walked 19. He owns a 3-2 win-loss record with a 4.11 ERA.

After yielding three runs in back-to-back outings on June 2 and 4 against the Royals and Los Angeles Angels, respectively, Matsui has pitched 5⅓ scoreless innings in his last five appearances, giving up two hits and recording five strikeouts.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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