The current pitching depth situation for the Detroit Tigers among their starters is thin as they head down soon to Lakeland. While there are plans to place Daniel Norris and Tyler Alexander back into the rotation, it still leaves room to fill the void.
So when Jordan Yamamoto was designated for assignment by the Marlins today to make room for Anthony Bass, as it seems to be the case lately whenever a player becomes available at a position of need for Detroit, we look to see if they could be a good fit.
Who is Jordan Yamamoto?
He was one of the four prospects acquired in the Christian Yelich deal. He was drafted in the 12th round (356th pick overall) and to me at least and I might be crazy but he is built similar to former Tigers prospect and former Atlanta Braves starter Jair Jurrjens. Both were just over 6 feet and weighed 200 lbs. Jurrjens seems a bit stiffer in his windup but judge for yourself.
Yamamoto definitely has more to his breaking pitches than Jurriens but for a body comparison, I thought they were similar.
Yamamoto features a fastball, slider, curve, and changeup, and a cutter, according to Baseball Savant. His slider and curve rate just above average but his fastball lost velocity as it went from 92MPH on average to 90MPH in 2020 which could be the reason for his bad numbers in 2020.
Since his curve and slider both have very good spin rates and were his main Put Away pitches in 2019, that allowed his four-seamer to be a much more effective pitch. Hitters hit .171 against it in 2019 but in 2020, they tee off it to the tune of .500 and an increased exit velocity of 98.7 off the pitch, up from 91.8 in 2019. Despite this, his fastball spin was in the 83% percentile and his curve spin is in the 78% percentile last season.
We all know that 2020 was a strange season because of the length of it, among other reasons, but Yamamoto did end the season in 2019 on the IL due to a forearm strain. Could it be possible he was just never fully healthy and was pitching and trying to recover? I am no doctor so all we can do is speculate.
Considering he just started his MLB clock, if Detroit wants to claim him and offer something to the Marlins, it would be that phrase we been hearing all winter and that is “low risk, high reward.” The Tigers could bring him to camp and if he does well, you have a starter who isn’t going to cost Detroit a lot on the payroll side. His walks per nine did creep up in 2020 in small sample size but still, that also gives you pause for concern.
Personally, I am still in the camp of getting a veteran starter to help out the rotation but if Yamamoto with his spin rates and his K per 9, which would have been second only to Tarik Skubal in 2020 can help while Matt Manning and Franklin Perez lie in wait, then take the chance. It seems based on the chatter today among the pitchers, the coaching staff has been hard at work with continued development.