Starter Hector Noesi of the Chicago White Sox was an unwanted man at the beginning of 2014. Noesi was purchased by the Texas Rangers from the Seattle Mariners. After having an unsuccessful career with the Rangers, the Sox claimed the 27-year-old off of waivers in late April.
Noesi was thrown straight into the fire after being acquired by the organization. Through his first three years in the majors, Noesi has been used mostly as a reliever with only 21 of his 70 career appearances being starts. With the Sox’s starting rotation in shambles, the team threw the righty into the rotation. Since then, Noesi is 0-4 with a 7.31 ERA. While his numbers do not scream success, he has proven to be a valuable arm moving forward.
In the Sox’s 6-5 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday, Noesi got off to a bumpy start by giving up four runs in the first inning. After that dismal beginning, he settled down, and started to show control of his off-speed pitches.
Sure, Noesi was facing the inexperienced Astros that look more like a Triple-A team than a major league club, but Noesi showed his best trait: durability. He gave up only one more earned run in the next five innings. With the bats turning it on in the latter innings, Noesi kept the Sox in the game and did not tax a bullpen whose mileage is starting to become worrisome.
On Friday, ace Chris Sale pitched four innings of no run ball while striking out eleven in his first rehab start for Class AAA Charlotte. Manager Robin Ventura stated that Sale would return during the last week of May. When Sale returns to the rotation, the team brass will have a decision to make: what do they do with Noesi and fellow starters Andre Rienzo and Scott Carroll?
Rienzo has been much more impressive than Noesi this season statistically speaking, going 3-0 with an ERA of 4.20 while beginning to show total control of his array of pitches. Carroll has struggled in his own right going up twelve runs in nine innings in his last two starts combined. While it is a no-brainer to keep Rienzo in the rotation when Sale returns, what do the Sox do with Carroll and Noesi?
The Sox have been adamant that Carroll will be given every opportunity imaginable to prove that he can cut it in the majors. Carroll has the makeup to remain in the starting rotation if he discovers how to pound the ball low in the zone, which led to his success in his first two starts. Noesi on the other hand has proven in his audition with the Sox over the last four starts that he is fit for another role outside of the rotation.
The Sox do not have a defined long relief man on their staff. Jake Petricka is given that title but his dominance in outings that mostly consist of one inning performances (1.90 ERA and 1.23 WHIP) makes him a prime candidate for a late-inning role in the near future. He will probably take the role of veteran Frank Francisco who has clearly showed that he does not have it anymore at the age of 34 (9.82 ERA and 1.91 WHIP).
Noesi has shown in his four starts that he may not be fit for the starter’s role, but he has the stuff to be dominant while eating up innings. His stuff is too electric at times to give up on quite yet. With a defined long relief man that could eat up innings, the back end of the bullpen will not be taxed as much. This is especially necessary when the pen is made up of a number of guys that the Sox hope to have around for a long time. The Sox have already seen what could happen to an overworked pitcher by looking at the Nate Jones situation.
Noesi will never be an All-Star and quite possibly be out of a Sox uniform by the end of 2014. Moving him to the bullpen though to eat up unnecessary innings instead of throwing a valuable young arm like Petricka or Daniel Webb would further help the Sox continue moving forward in their master rebuilding plan.