In the afterglow of the Hector Noesi's first win with the White Sox, I thought it was time to figure out if he was fixed or not. I was looking at zone charts that would say two different things. Peripheral stats conflicted with each other. A BABIP that came in ... right about where it should be. A SIERA that has gotten worse over the season. So, I decided to consult the source that has never failed me -- my Magic 8-Ball. Time to ask the big question then.
"O Magic 8-Ball, has Coop fixed Hector Noesi?"
shake shake shake
"Ask Again Later"
With Seattle, Noesi's BABIP was.333 and he gave up a home run in his one inning pitched with the Mariners. With the Rangers, he didn't give up any home runs, but the eleven hits and two walks over 5⅓ innings he gave up gave him a .500 BABIP. WIth the Sox, his BABIP is down to a reasonable .287. So, does that mean he's fixed now or was just really unlucky before he came to the Sox. Hmmm...
shake shake shake
"Signs point to yes"
Don Cooper has been an expert at teaching and refining sliders. It seems he's found a receptive student in Hector Noesi.
|2014 (White Sox)||1.7||2.27|
So, you might not be that familiar with wSL or wSL/C. The first number shows the number of runs saved when using a slider over the season. The second standardizes this out to a score per 100 pitches. Both numbers are scaled on similarly to other runs saved / allowed scales where zero is average, positive is better, and negative is worse. Fangraphs says wSL typically scales between -30 to 30 while wSL/C comes in usually between -1.5 and 1.5. These stats are more descriptive than predictive so this can all change with a couple hanging sliders. Finally, small sample size warnings are also posted for Noesi's time with Seattle and Texas this season so they here more for the trending than for anything else.
With all that said, in Noesi's eight games with the Sox, his slider has saved 1.7 runs while saving a total of 2.0 runs over his whole career. That amounts to 2.27 runs per 100 sliders thrown while with the Sox. To give this a little context, Chris Sale's wSL/C was 1.34 in 2013 and is at 2.55 so far in 2014.
Noesi had a decent slider through 2011 and 2012. In 2013, something happened to his slider and he lost his effectiveness with it. That continued while with Seattle and Texas this season. Once he got to the Sox, something changed again and his slider went from "bad" to "Chris Sale". All signs point to Coop.
While not as extreme, Noesi's also seen a nice increase in the effectiveness of his fastball too (2.7 wSL with the Sox vs. -16.7 wSL for his career). His changeup continues to be shaky, but I guess two out of three isn't that bad.
shake shake shake
"My sources say no"
So, Noesi's slider is fixed. His fastball is better. Coop fixed 'em, right?
Not so fast. Hector Noesi is a fly ball pitcher, and, in his eight games with the Sox, he's given up five home runs in 41⅓. If you're thinking that can't be good for his FIP, you're right. Noesi's FIP is at 4.27 now. This puts him solidly in the "below average" category according to Fangraphs. Unfortunately, that's the good news.
As a fly ball pitcher, xFIP is a good stat to check as well. Right now, his xFIP is at 4.47 or just a little better than "poor". This is a bit of an improvement since his career xFIP is 4.64, but saying that feels a bit like I just gave him a D+ for this season. Since xFIP has one of the best correlations to ERA, Noesi may see some more regression to the mean. It's just not the kind of regression we really want to see.
As summer's heat approaches, the Cell gets decidedly smaller, being a fly ball pitcher becomes decidedly more risky. That's when we'll see if his improved pitch effectiveness trumps his historical problems, and when we can answer the question on our own.