By Shannon Drayer
I think it is safe to say that Hector Noesi will not be the answer for one of the open rotation spots next year for the Mariners. It was a very disappointing showing Monday night at Safeco Field as he started where he left off, giving up a home run on an 0-2 pitch to the leadoff batter.
Eric Wedge did not want to have to go to the bullpen early as it was the first game of a series but he was forced to as Noesi surrendered seven runs in less than two innings.
"You send him down for a reason," said a none-too-pleased Wedge. "You are hoping to see something better than that."
Noesi is scheduled to start Sunday against the Rangers but that looks to be in doubt after tonight's outing.
"I don't know," Wedge said when asked what was next for Noesi. "That's something we'll have to talk about."
My guess is Blake Beavan will get the Sunday start and Noesi will go back to the bullpen. Wedge has said time and time again that this month is about winning ballgames and he will put the best nine on the field to do that night in and night out. There is not much Noesi could show in the handful of starts he would get between now and the end of the year and Beavan is coming off a good start in Texas, so he would seem like the logical choice.
The bigger picture going forward with the rotation remains a question mark. I wrote about this and the importance of signing Hisashi Iwakuma two weeks ago and that situation has not changed. Without him, behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas there are a lot of question marks. Beavan will be in the mix competing for a spot as will Erasmo Ramirez. Who else from within the organization could grab a spot? With Danny Hultzen struggling this year at Triple-A and James Paxton and Brandon Maurer not getting out of Double-A, might the Mariners need outside help?
Most likely not. I spoke with Jack Zduriencik on the recent roadtrip and he was not concerned that we did not see any of the "Big Three" this September in Seattle.
"Paxton, Hultzen and Walker have experienced the typical what you go through in Double-A when you are 19, or your first season in pro ball or in Paxton's case, having missed a year and trying to make up time," he said.
"James has ended very, very strong," Zduriencik continued. "I think Danny was eating up the league so he needed a challenge, and it was a good challenge, and Taijuan is 19. I think these are all talented guys we are all excited about their future."
Another pitcher he threw into the mix was Maurer, who in his fourth year in the organization was finally able to stay healthy for a full season and show a consistency that earned him Southern League Most Valuable Pitcher honors.
Walker, at 19, is still building up and I find it hard to believe that he would be allowed to break camp with the Mariners next spring. Hultzen, who struggled in Triple-A and will not pitch this winter, most likely will need more time in Tacoma to show he is over the command issues that plagued him in the second half of the season. What about Paxton and Maurer, however? Is it out of the question that they could bypass Triple-A completely and start the season in Seattle?
I asked Zduriencik if this was a possibility.
"Yes," he answered. "Now are you asking me will that happen? That is a different question, but I do think absolutely. Why not?"
They will be allowed to compete which should make for a very interesting spring.