Hector Noesi has had some pretty profound platoon splits this season as a starter with the Seattle Mariners. Righties are hitting .193/.244/.395 while lefties are hitting .262/.324/.516 off of him. This is despite a BABIP of .265 by lefties against Noesi (against righties it is a baffling low .174). So I wanted to see the difference of how he is approaching lefties versus righties.
Amazingly, in his start against the White Sox on Saturday, he struck out the first two lefties he faced
Here is how he got two righties to strikeout
You can see that Noesi was trying (and mostly succeeding) at trying to keep balls away from hitters in the at-bats above. Here is his movement charts against lefties and righties, this is useful not because the movement is different, it isn’t, but you see the different pitches he is going to more often to each side:
As you can see, he throws a lot less change-ups versus lefties and a lot more sliders against righties. This isn’t anything unusual, as pitchers usually throw more change-ups to hitters that have the platoon advantage and more sliders when they have the platoon advantage. However, Noesi’s platoon difference is much higher than league average. Righthanders against righties are giving up an OPS of .700 so far this season. Against lefties, they are giving up a .752 OPS, a difference of .052. Noesi’s difference is a whopping .201! This could mean several things, and the first thing I thought of was that Noesi must have an extremely weak change-up. According to Fangraphs’ “pitch values”, Noesi had a positive change-up last year with the Yankees when he threw it 9.7% of the time. This year he is throwing it 15 % of the time, and it is rated at -1.7, the same as Josh Johnson and Daniel Bard. Those aren’t bad names, and Johnson has a FIP of 3.01 (ERA of 4.83) but Bard has a 5.13 FIP (4.56 ERA). But both throw the change about 10-11% of the time, much lower than Noesi. They both also have better fastball velocity. However Noesi also has a better slider than either of them. In fact, Noesi’s slider is really good, rated at 26th best in the Majors, between Edwin Jackson (3.33 FIP) and Anthony Bass (3.65 FIP). So why doesn’t Noesi just throw his slider to lefties? So I tried to find the last few at-bats that Noesi had thrown sliders to lefties in and cataloged the results.
First, let’s look at his at-bat versus A.J. Pierzynski on Saturday:
As you can see, Noesi tried to go all outside to A.J., never threw a slider, and a change-up stayed high in the zone and was hit for a homer. Look at Noesi’s pitch locations against lefties:
Here is Noesi against righties:
As you can see, like in the A.J. at-bat, Noesi is trying to keep the change-up away from lefties, and it isn’t really working. The sliders against righties are away, so it is a very good pitch. My guess that it would be less effective against lefties, as it would be in and something that they could pull. In the 3rd inning on Saturday, Noesi was up 0-1 on De Aza before throwing a slider low and slightly on the outside part of the plate. De Aza took it for a ball. That was the only slider he threw to a lefty in the game. In his previous start, against the Angels, he threw 4 sliders to left handers, 2 were strikes, 2 were balls. The first one was to Erick Aybar, a slider on the high outside corner that he hit for a ground-ball out. The next one was to Kendrys Morales, another one that stayed high and outside on the plate was driven out of the ballpark. In his previous start, against the Rangers, he threw 4 more sliders to lefties. 2 were to Mitch Moreland, both balls, both high and outside. The other 2 were also to Mitch Moreland, in a different at-bat, one was low and inside, and the other was high and outside. Both taken for balls. Amazingly, he threw 4 sliders to lefties in the start before that, against the Indians. The first one was to Shin-Soo Choo, and it was down and in the strike zone and was hit for a double. He then waited until the 6th inning to throw another one to a lefty, this time to Travis Hafner, and it was way outside for a ball. In the very next at-bat, to Carlos Santana, a middle height slider on the outside corner was fouled off. Despite facing a lot of lefties in that line-up, he actually had a really nice start on that day. In the final game we will look at, against the Yankees, he threw (you guessed it) 4 sliders to left handed hitters. The first one was to Raul Ibanez was thrown into the dirt, and then a next pitch change-up turned into a double. A slider down and in the zone to Curtis Granderson turned into a ground-out, and one to Robinson Cano turned into a foul-ball. To Raul Ibanez in the 4th, he threw 5 straight fastballs before throwing a slider low and in for a ball. A next pitch fastball was hit for a homer.
From this small sample of data, it is hard to draw any real hard and fast conclusions. We do know that with a 5.40 FIP, the change-up heavy approach to lefties isn’t really working. I personally would like to see him throw more sliders, clearly a superior pitch for Noesi, to left handed hitters and at least see if that will help cure some pretty bad platoon woes.
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Favorite general sports moment: The Texas versus USC college football national championship comes to mind, as does Gary Matthews Jr. catch on July 1st 2006.
Favorite Seattle Sports Moment: King Felix throwing a perfect game against the Rays
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