With the White Sox evaluating their rotation on a start-by-start basis, Hector Noesi is in a rather tough situation. He's not only trying to keep his spot in the White Sox rotation, but he's trying to do it while getting stretched out as a starter.
Noesi admitted it's been a difficult transition, though he looked at ease Tuesday night at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. The 27-year-old right-hander shut down a listless Cubs offense over five innings, allowing one run on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts, and manager Robin Ventura said Noesi earned himself another start in the process.
"We’re just kind of flying by the seat of our pants of starters," Ventura said. "These guys keep coming out and doing well, they get another shot."
Noesi threw 81 pitches -- the most he's thrown since July 4, 2012 -- and though he started to tire toward the end of his outing he limited the Cubs' damage to just one run in the fifth. That run, too, scored on a soft line drive that went off the glove of second baseman Gordon Beckham (which was ruled a hit). Noesi struck out Luis Valbuena with runners on second and third to end the threat.
"I’ve been working hard, you know, to get back to my point in being like a starter," Noesi said. "The first (start) was like kind of, my arm got tired because I hadn’t thrown that much. But I feel very good today."
The White Sox have other options besides Noesi, though. Tommy Hanson, who had a 3.28 ERA in 77 starts for Atlanta between 2009-2011, threw six shutout innings for Triple-A Charlotte, striking out five with two walks and six hits allowed. Erik Johnson is scheduled to throw Wednesday for Charlotte, too, and only issued one walk in six shutout innings for the Knights in his first start since his demotion last month.
Noesi entered Tuesday with a career 5.85 ERA in 201 2/3 innings, which doesn't give him a lot of leeway to have a bad start given the other options in the minor leagues. But the White Sox were confident they identified a few tweaks that could help Noesi -- tweaks the right-hander said have been extremely helpful so far.
"It’s like when you are lost, you need a GPS you know to get to the point," Noesi said, passing on an analogy imparted on him by pitching coach Don Cooper. "Before I was just throwing pitches. But we need to sometimes hear it from somebody, you need to do this, because it makes you better and better."