Follow us:

Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

June 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Hector Noesi once again tests patience of Mariners and their coaching staff

Nobody doubts that Hector Noesi has the stuff to be a quality major league starting pitcher. We saw what he could do last week in holding the San Diego Padres to a run on seven hits. Saw him pitch well at Yankee Stadium after giving up several early runs to fall in a hole his team couldn’t dig itself out of.
Right now, he often pitches well enough to lose.
Can post the good peripheral strikeout stats that get everybody trying to play the prospect game all excited. But he has a ways to go before he can be a successful major league pitcher. And a big part of that problem is mental. It has to do with inexperience and his maturity level.
Of not realizing what it takes to compete 30-35 times per season.
Coming into the game, opposing hitters had a .281 average and 1.031 OPS against him with the count 0-2. That is a basic part of pitching. When you get into such an advantageous pitcher’s count, you can’t let opponents beat you with bad pitches. And Noesi keeps making them. He keeps missing location. And just as bad, he keeps failing to finish pitches off by throwing them aggressively enough and with conviction.
That’s not a mechanical issue. Even Noesi agreed with that tonight. It’s an emotional issue. A mental issue. Of a pitcher being able — or not able — to aggressively channel emotions into a pitch.
Again, that slider he threw to Justin Upton at 0-2 with two on in the first inning? It’ll look great on those little Pitch FX graphics because it was indeed down and away. But as I mentioned in the game blog, the pitch didn’t break the way a proper slider has to break to get good hitters out.
It just kind of hung there lazily near the bottom corner of the zone and Upton reached out and pulled it into left field. It was exactly like that pitch Raul Ibanez took the other way to left field off Noesi at Yankee Stadium last month. Looks great on a still-frame chart location-wise. But when you look for the stuff that matters beyond location, the pitch was no good.
Here’s what manager Eric Wedge thought about the Upton pitch. Wedge knows Noesi lacks the maturity of a more seasoned big league pitcher and is still learning about the consistency it takes to stay in the majors. But there was also a tinge of exasperation in Wedge’s voice as he spoke tonight.
“Again, he just wasn’t as aggressive with it so it didn’t have the same bite on it,” Wedge said of the slider to Upton. “It was down and away, but it didn’t have the same life that he normally has when he makes the finish on his pitches. A good hitter is able to slow himself down, go out there and hook it.”

Now, the batter before that, Aaron Hill, got on with a single becase Noesi threw him one down the pipe at 0-2 rather than bury the pitch in the dirt like his coaches and catchers have been telling him to do every day for two months.
“I tried to put it in the dirt,” Noesi said.
But he’s got to do a better job. He knows it, too. He was asked about how he felt he’d improved since the year began and what he needs to keep working on.
His answer? Stop getting hit on 0-2 pitches. And be more aggressive.
When a guy gives up four sacrifice flies in one six-inning stint, it isn’t all the hitters doing their job. Those weren’t dinky fly balls. Several looked like home runs off the bat. Not one D-Backs runner broke a sweat tagging up at third tonight.
“Their hitters did a nice job,” Wedge said. “But, when you elevate (pitches), you’re doing half the work for them.”
Indeed, and when he isn’t grooving 0-2 pitches, Noesi has often left too many pitches up at key moments in a game. And when you do that, it doesn’t matter how good your next five innings may be. Tonight, the three first-inning runs by Arizona were the ballgame.
Noesi is still a first-year pitcher and will have some bumps. Wedge tried to give him a “teaching moment” tonight by leaving him in to finish off the sixth inning, despite having given up two runs that frame. He wanted Noesi to work through it and get those outs with a 6-1 game out of reach so the pitcher can have a reference point for the next time he’s in a tight spot with the game still on-the-line.
“I’m trying to do my best,” Noesi said. “But I have to stop doing that, being good and then bad. I have to be consistent.”
Yes, he does.
Noesi isn’t going to Class AAA just yet, namely because the Mariners don’t have anyone there they feel can replace him right now. It was different with Blake Beavan because of Erasmo Ramirez. Maybe, at some point, Danny Hultzen moves up to AAA and will be ready for a big league shot soon after.
And Noesi will have to get his act together before then or it’ll be him riding the bus back to Tacoma. He’s shown some promise, but needs some “finish” himself if he wants to stick in the big leagues.
Because an ERA of 5.69 isn’t going to cut it very long, no matter how many strikeouts can keep the ERA from sprouting to 7.00.
“I’m fully confident he has the stuff, but he has to be aggressive with his arm action,” Wedge said. “His ability to repeat his delivery is why we feel strong about him as a starter. And when you do, then it’s tougher (for hitters) to recognize pitches. But having said that, you’ve got to be aggressive with all the pitches you throw so you can work ahead and stay ahead.
“And so you can have the type of acton on your pitches that you need to have.”
Wedge had hoped Ramirez had turned the corner after the San Diego game.
“But then he needs to build off that,” Wedge said. “You need to start stringing them together. That’s what I’m talking about.”



No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►