Hector Noesi has had a very solid first season in Pinstripes, working out of the bullpen to the tune of a 3.42 ERA and 3.60 FIP in 47.1 innings. He has actually been more impressive than those numbers reflect, as he had two terrible outings that skew his numbers drastically. In his other 22 appearances, Noesi has put up a stellar line of 39 H, 9ER, 35 K’s, 12 BB, 3HR, and a 1.82 ERA/3.09 FIP in 44.2 innings. His stuff has looked quite impressive, with two fastballs (4-seamer and 2-seamer) showing good life at 92-95 MPH, a slider that gets plenty of swinging strikes (26.5% whiff rate), and a curve and changeup that he mixes is on occasion to keep batters guessing. While he was sent down yesterday, he will be back with the club shortly, and has a good chance to win a spot on the postseason roster.
That sums up Noesi’s recent past and his present. The interesting angle when it comes to Hector is his future, which Joe Pawlikowski at RAB touched on recently:
His presence should leave the Yankees in a flexible position this winter. They’ll return three starters and five relievers (with Joba’s return looming), so they could have an opening in either place for Noesi. In fact, with these openings, combined with the weak market, it appears fairly certain that Noesi will start the season on the major league roster. Given his performance this year, the Yankees should feel comfortable putting him in whatever role remains free.
I am a big believer in Noesi, as I think he has a varied enough repertoire to succeed as a starter. He should be given a chance to compete against the likes of Phil Hughes, Adam Warren, and possibly one of Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances for the 5th rotation spot next offseason. That said, he will likely need to use his secondary pitches a bit more if he moves into a starting role, as his velocity has been a bit inflated in the bullpen and he will need to compensate for that loss while in the rotation. His changeup in particular is a pitch he needs to use more than the 8% of the time that he is currently using it. Noesi’s changeup was actually his most heralded pitch while in the minors (see Mike Axisa’s scouting report from prior to the 2011 season) , and I am actually a bit confused as to why it has largely been shelved in the majors. It is possible that the Yankees decided to limit his repertoire a bit while he is in the bullpen, and the effectiveness of his slider made it the secondary pitch of choice. Whatever the reason, Noesi will need that changeup once he begins to face hitters multiple times in the same game and they become more familiar with his primary offerings.
As Pawlikowski notes, it is easy to see Noesi playing some role on the 2012 Yankees, whether it is as a swingman reliever in the mold of Alfredo Aceves or as the 5th starter. Whatever his role, the combination of good stuff, strong minor league track record, and solid 2011 results portends well for his future in Pinstripes.