Hector Noesi made his 3rd start for Tacoma on Tuesday night, racking up strikeouts but giving up plenty of runs as well.
The outing started off well, as he threw 3 straight fastballs for a strikeout to start the game. It was nice to see him have fastball command early even if they were down the middle. He had an easy 1-2-3 inning in the first, mixing in some sliders. The pitch didn’t look real good, and stayed kind of high but he was keeping them off the plate so they weren’t being hit.
Noesi’s 1st pitch of the 2nd was a high fastball cranked for double. He then threw another fastball down the middle and it was cranked for another double. He started mixing in the curve along with his slider after these at-bats. Noesi got a swinging strikeout on what looked like a slider. Then his slider turned into a wild pitch, and then was hit for a single when it didn’t get all the way down. Hector got ahead of the next hitter 0-2 and followed by blowing a fastball by him. The next hitter was a similar story, but this one ended with a slider that the hitter chased.
It seems that the plan for Noesi was to pump the fastball down the middle for strike 1. He was almost too concerned with throwing strike 1. When hitters took it, Noesi was pretty much able to dominate. He didn’t have the weird 2 strike thing that happened in the big leagues. The problem was that hitters could just sit on first pitch fastball.
The 3rd inning started with a fastball low/middle in the zone that was lined to right field. He got whiffs on his curveball and then a slider that caught the bottom of the zone for another strikeout. He started the next at-bat with a slider for a ball, and then after falling behind 2-0, he threw a fastball on the corner of the plate and got a ground-ball for an easy inning.
In the 4th, Noesi really fell behind for the first time, walking the first hitter on 4 pitches. He got ahead of the next hitter 0-2, threw a breaking ball low, bounced a fastball, and then a wild pitch to not only advance the runner, but to get to a full count. He ended up walking him. He got ahead again 0-2, throwing a 94 MPH fastball in the bottom of the strikezone. He then threw another wild pitch on a breaking ball before giving up a SAC fly (which was a line drive). Noesi threw what looked like a changeup in the middle of the zone for a double and his 3rd run allowed. He got a whiff on a 92 MPH fastball, but threw another wild pitch on a curve (Guillermo Quiroz could certainly have done a better job blocking it, but it was in the dirt). He couldn’t put the lefty hitter away with fastballs, giving up a couple fouls but threw a pitch down in the zone for his 6th strikeout. A weak grounder should have been out 3, but Carlos Triunfel booted the ball. He ended up fooling the next hitter on a breaking ball for another strikeout.
The 5th started with a whiff on a breaking ball and then made a good pitch at 2-2 with an inside fastball for a ground-ball out. Even though he left it high, he got another strikeout on an off-speed pitch for out 2. He then followed this at-bat by getting a couple whiffs on curveballs for yet another strikeout. The 6th started off well when he got behind 3-1 but got a weak fly-ball foul that Vinnie Catricala caught. Unfortunately for Noesi, he got behind 3-1 again before a fastball down the middle was fouled off to make the count full. His next pitch was low for a walk. This ended his outing.
In my opinion, it is time for the Mariners to give up on Hector Noesi as a starter. Last year, he was pretty effective for the Yankees out of the bullpen. Some pitchers, for whatever reasons, are better suited out of the bullpen than the rotation. Sometimes this doesn’t mean that the pitcher is bad, it just means that he has a skill set more suited for the bullpen that the rotation. Daniel Bard is an example, who was terrible when he started his pro career as a starter. He then switched to the bullpen and became one of the better relievers in baseball. The Red Sox then decided to try him as a starter again and it became a disaster. The Red Sox then demoted him and made him a bullpen pitcher again. Even as a reliever, he has a 5.51 FIP and 4.49 SIERA in AAA. He, at least at this point, has been broken by the move to the rotation. Of course, success stories like C.J. Wilson make front offices want to continue these experiments. They should of course. A good starter is of much more value than a good reliever. However, you eventually have to pull the plug when it is not working. As expected, he lost a full MPH (sometimes the velocity drop is bigger) on almost all his pitches and saw a pretty big regression in strikeouts (with a very slight drop in walks). There is nothing in his pretty simple delivery to suggest that he can’t be a starter, and he has the pitch assortment, although the pitches are necessarily good, to be a starter. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work. It didn’t work in the Majors and it isn’t working in AAA. In my opinion, Noesi should be assigned the bullpen in Tacoma and (if all goes well) brought back to Seattle later this year in that capacity. Matt Fox made a start in Arizona and should be back soon to take a rotation spot in Tacoma (since Jeff Marquez was released) to replace Noesi. Brian Moran came in and dominated for Tacoma on Tuesday night for an extended period, and he could be considered for a rotation spot, even though he is probably a LOOGY long term. Again starters are more valuable than relievers, but I believe that Hector Noesi is just a reliever.