Throngs of Los Angeles Dodgers fans lined up outside the stadium well before the start of Thursday's game versus the Texas Rangers for the opportunity to bring home a Yoshinobu Yamamoto bobblehead. Unfortunately, however, the Japanese phenom is not on the mound for the series finale.

Despite Yamamoto being originally scheduled to start against the reigning MLB champions, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is giving him two extra days of rest. A big promotion obviously loses some luster by not having the figurine's namesake take the hill, but the organization is keen on protecting its $325 million investment.

The 24-year-old threw 106 pitches in seven scoreless innings in last Friday's dramatic 2-1 extra-innings win against the New York Yankees. It is arguably the best outing of his young MLB career, but the physical and mental demands that come with competing in such a high-octane, October-like environment seemingly contributed to Roberts' decision to push Yamamoto to the weekend.

“That was an emotional game,” the veteran skipper said, per Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. “To give him an extra couple of days and get him back on line Saturday, he should be fresh.”

Starters generally pitch every sixth day in Japan, so Yoshinobu Yamamoto is probably still adjusting to his new routine. Additionally, he has tossed 100 pitches or more in four straight outings after not reaching that total in his previous nine starts. As the former Nippon Professional Baseball superstar ramps up his production and volume, the Dodgers' caution will also rise. At least initially.

A workhorse Yamamoto remains an essential component of the team's World Series blueprint, however.

Dodgers' Yoshinobu Yamamoto continues to rise

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (18) pitches against the New York Yankees during the second inning at Yankee Stadium.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The three-time Japanese Triple Crown winner weathered a slow start to his LA tenure, which included a miserable debut in Seoul, South Korea versus the San Diego Padres– allowed five runs on four hits in only one inning of work. He quickly worked out the kinks but then navigated more ups and downs in May. Now, the blockbuster offseason signing is starting to put everything together.

Following a terrific effort against the lowly Colorado Rockies, he muzzled one of the best offenses in baseball in one of the most hostile atmospheres in baseball. Yamamoto surrendered just two hits to the Yankees while striking out seven batters and inducing 10 ground balls. The right-hander did not get rewarded with the win in the box score, but he is the foremost reason The Boys in Blue ultimately prevailed.

And that is exactly what the Dodgers (42-27) will ask of him in the playoffs. Yoshinobu Yamamoto must look the part of an ace when it matters most. The club's past postseason pitching woes is why ownership and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman were so motivated to acquire the high-profile talent. He possesses the ability to avenge the October anguish of 2022 and 2023.

Yamamoto is not among the elites yet, but with a 3.00 ERA, 83 strikeouts and a .363 slugging percentage against, he is swiftly moving up the MLB pitching ladder. The All-Star Game contender should feel refreshed when he battles the Kansas City Royals (40-30) on Saturday in Dodger Stadium.