Cardinals' lineup needs to attack Yoshinobu Yamamoto while he adjusts to MLB hitting

Yoshinobu Yamamoto is having trouble facing Major League hitters and the Cardinals have a chance to take advantage next weekend.

2024 Seoul Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
2024 Seoul Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers / Chung Sung-Jun/GettyImages

The hype surrounding Yoshinobu Yamamoto's arrival to Major League Baseball has been immense, but so far, he hasn't lived up to expectations. In his 3 Spring Training appearances, Yamamoto recorded an 8.38 ERA, and his Major League debut Thursday morning was nothing short of disastrous. In just a single inning of work, Yamamoto allowed five earned runs and was not allowed to continue.

As a part-time Dodgers fan and a Japanese baseball fan, I'm not overly concerned with this performance. Yamamoto is far too talented to pitch this poorly for the remainder of his 12-year deal. I expect him to go through an adjustment period before dominating Major League hitters. However, the Cardinals have a golden opportunity to take advantage of Yamamoto's early struggles in the opening series next weekend.

It's clear Yamamoto is learning the hard way that MLB hitters are far more skilled than NPB hitters. In 7 NPB starts, Yamamoto made 118 starts and failed to complete five or more innings just twice, both of which were in his rookie season, and only allowed five or more earned runs six times. Five earned runs in just one inning is by far the worst start of his young career.

It's unlikely Yamamoto will struggle as much in his home debut as he did in Korea, but it's obvious he's still learning how to navigate tough Major League lineups. The Cardinals' potent lineup will be no easy task for the young starter to handle, and St. Louis may need to score early and often against Yamamoto to have a chance of winning.

The dormant Dodgers' offense woke up in game 2 of the Seoul Series, exploding for 11 runs despite losing the game. Every hitter in LA's starting lineup reached base twice except for Shohei Ohtani, who only reached once. However, Ohtani hit several towering fly balls for outs that likely would've left the park had the Dodgers not played in a "dead-ball" KBO stadium. The lineup is as advertised and will undoubtedly be a challenge for the Sonny Gray-less Cardinals.

However, if Yamamoto continues to struggle, I believe the Cardinals have a great chance to steal a win on the road. It won't take long for Yamamoto to figure out Major League hitting, but the Cardinals have a fantastic chance to strike before he does. Beating the young ace would be a statement win to open the season, and the Cardinals' hitters need to be ready to rise to the occasion.