Hector Noesi let the big inning get to him again on Monday against the Memphis Redbirds (the Cardinals AAA affiliate) on Monday.
In some ways, it was a very encouraging start. Noesi got quite a bit of grounders. He made Eugenio Velez look really bad on an inside fastball and then broke his bat on a grounder later in the at-bat. In the 3rd, after a bad luck grounder got through (his BABIP has been extremely high thanks to bad fielding and bad luck) before the next batter unloaded a triple to center and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The nightmare inning continued when another ground-ball got through with 2 outs and he threw a 3-2 fastball down the middle that was launched off the wall for another run. The inning only ended because he got an out on a deep fly-ball. He wasn’t walking batters (as one would expect, as he was rated as having the best control in the Yankees system in 2010), but he was extremely hittable. He should not be getting that hard with that fastball. He sat in the low 90s for most of his start on Monday, which is down for him as he usually a fastball in the 95 MPH range. All the balls flying out of the park (his HR/9IP is much higher than league average) and off the wall, speak to poor fastball location. He is just throwing pitches (mainly his fastball) down the middle and is getting hammered for it. I have said for months now that he shouldn’t be a starter anymore, so I will stop repeating it, but something is clearly wrong with his pitching approach. As Kevin Slowey’s disappearance from the big leagues attested, there is a such thing as throwing too many strikes. Since his Strike % is not extremely high (while still above average for the PCL), one wonders if it is just his command and not his approach. His high walk rate before Monday’s start points to this being very likely (although as mentioned before, he wasn’t walking batters on Monday).
Despite being over 80 pitches, Noesi was brought back for the 6th inning. After getting a fly-out, a question fair/foul call lead to a triple. 2 ground-balls would lead to another run, but get him out of the inning.
How about some statistical perspective? According to FIP, Anthony Vasquez (I haven’t heard an update on his injury in a long time) was better this year in Tacoma than Noesi. Some other PCL pitchers better than Noesi? Aaron Laffey, Rodrigo Lopez, Doug Davis, Ryan Rowland-Smith, and recently demoted to AA Mike Montgomery. According to SIERA, Noesi has been worse than Forrest Snow was in Tacoma before he was demoted. Brian Sweeney, Cesar Jimenez, and Jarrett Grube (who has been released) also have better SIERAs. Other than Brian Moran, the best Tacoma pitchers according to SIERA are pretty unsurprising: Carter Capps, Moran, Shawn Kelley, Charlie Furbush, Josh Kinney, and Oliver Perez. Only Scott Patterson (released and with the Mets organization) has a worse GB % than Noesi out of pitchers that have thrown more than 11 innings (Jandy Sena has less if you set the qualifier to 10 innings, but he has done a good job of getting grounders in Jackson and High Desert). Noesi’s walk percentage is about the same as Chance Ruffin‘s in Tacoma this year, and he is striking out less hitters than Grube and Erasmo.
Acquired as part of the Michael Pineda trade (a trade that has been a colossal failure for both sides thus far), Hector Noesi’s future with the team is unclear. Right now, his job is to prove he is a decent PCL pitcher. He showed that in a few innings on Monday, but he still has a lot of work to do. The best case scenario for the Mariners is for him to continue to make some strides over his next 2 or 3 AAA starts and then come up in September as a reliever. Hopefully, he would remain in that role in the future.