The acrimony over the Hector Noesi situation (I can’t believe I just typed that) has reached its peak lately. In case you haven’t been following the insanity, the argument goes something like this: Hector Noesi is being handled poorly. Instead of being allowed to develop on the major league team, he’s rotting away in a long reliever role where he pitches infrequently and his potential is being wasted.
In an alternate universe where Hector Noesi profiles as a 1-3 type starting pitcher, I would totally agree with that. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite that parallel universe. We all know Noesi has one plus tool, which is command. He throws strikes and that’s great. He just doesn’t have the stuff to consistently miss bats that would allow him to profile in a larger role. He secondary pitches are average. Ordered from best to worst they’d look like this: Changeup, slider and curveball. None of those are good enough to produce a lot of swing and misses at the major league level right now. Sure, Noesi was able to rack up good strikeout numbers in the lower minors when he was a bit old for the levels. The last time he had a K/9 over 8, he was a 23 year old in Tampa with almost 200 professional innings of experience. Guys with 4 pitches and good command tend to have pretty good numbers down there. Understandably though, his K/9 has been dropping the higher he has climbed.
Right now, it’s at a robust 3 strikeouts per 9 innings in the majors. That’s another point you have to overlook if you’re clamoring for Noesi to be a starting pitcher for the Yankees right now. Nothing in his statistical profile indicates he deserves that role. Here’s a snapshot of Noesi’s numbers before his regression real bad outing against the Reds:
Here’s how it looks now:
So while everyone was so eager for him to get those innings as a starting pitcher, he had a K/9 of 3 (identical to his BB/9), a .204 BABIP, a strand rate above 90%, a fluky HR/FB ratio especially considering over 45% of his batted balls are in the air, a FIP of 4.02 and an xFIP of 4.88. Of course he has the 1.50 ERA though, so there’s always that. Let’s be clear though- he has just 19 innings of major league experience. It’s anything but certain how he’ll perform going forward from here. Considering that statistical profile though, we shouldn’t act horrified he was passed over for Brian Gordon two weeks ago.
Noesi is the type of prospect you can afford to pass over though. He is one of many pitchers the Yankees have right now that profile as a 4/5 starter at the major league level. At some point, you have to use those guys to plug the gaps with these injuries. As Mark Newman said in an interview with NoMass yesterday:
“In the ideal situation, Noesi would be a starter in Scranton right now and be continuing his development. However, we have to return to that priority of winning in New York. In that regard, we are doing what we have to do at this moment. It may not be what any of us like to do, but it’s what we have to do. Now you can take that in isolation and criticize what we’re doing as detrimental to his development, or you can view it in the context of a bigger picture. You can ask any rabid Yankee fan and I would guess they’d care more about winning in New York than the development of a young pitcher.”
I totally agree. If everyone is healthy, Noesi is down in Scranton getting some more development time. That would be the best case scenario. I think the Yankees have correctly recognized what Noesi is at this point. It’s not likely he’s going to get much better than he already is. Sure, he could work on mixing in his pitches better or maybe ways to attack advanced hitters more effectively. The possibility he takes a huge step forward with more time to develop is pretty low.
Guys like Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos have strict development paths that you have to stick too. This also isn’t the same as the Jesus Montero debate. Catchers take the longest to break into the majors for a reason- Montero has a lot more growth possibility at this point. He’s also 21 and is one of the top young offensive prospects in all of baseball. There is not a similarity there with this Hector Noesi situation. At some point of course, the collision between prudent development and the “win now” attitude is going to happen. This isn’t one of those collisions. Noesi is not Joba Chamberlain. He’s an expendable arm the Yankees have under team control that profiles as a 4/5 starter or…..a long reliever.