Hector Noesi has gone from reliever to starter essentially over the course of one month within the 2014 season. And that switch is certainly not an easy one to accomplish.
"He's done well. You think about it, he's had like one poor inning in his starts," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said of Noesi, who gets the call on Saturday against the Astros. "That was the first one.
"We're trying to run him out there as much as we can to get him stretched out as much as we can. He's making some nice improvements with the things we denoted to improve on, and he's done well."
With Chris Sale on an injury rehab assignment and out of action since April 17 because of a flexor muscle strain in his left arm and Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson both having struggled as part of the original five, Noesi has performed admirably as one of the rotation replacements. He threw 51 pitches against the Tigers on April 30 and 81 against the Cubs on May 6 before jumping up to a career-high 117 on May 11 in his latest outing, a quality start against the D-backs.
While Noesi (0-2) did not win any of those starts, he has enjoyed the switch in job description and would like to remain in the rotation.
"He's making that adjustment really on the fly," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's impressive that he's able to step in and give us that kind of effort."
The Astros entered Friday having won four of seven games, one of their best stretches of the season. Their starting pitching had combined for a 3.15 ERA in 10 games since May 5. One of the big reasons for that success was Jarred Cosart, who will start Saturday.
Since allowing three hits, including two homers, and seven runs in one-third of an inning April 18 at Oakland, Cosart has gone 1-1 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts, allowing six earned runs and two homers in 25 2/3 innings.
"Our starting pitching has been good all year," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "I feel like offensively, our players are starting to understand what the league is doing to them. They're getting more advanced into the preparation side of it, and it's helping their at-bats late, especially in the game. And defensively we continue to catch the ball.
"I keep telling these guys, you pitch, you play defense and grind out your at-bats and be smart on the basepaths, you're going to be in enough ballgames. Now that our bullpen is throwing the ball well -- you can see we get into those close ballgames, and it's break point here, break point there, and the bullpen guys come in and we win those break points -- that's how you go on winning streaks."
White Sox: Roster decisions are looming
With center fielder/leadoff man Adam Eaton expected back Monday in Kansas City and Sale's return probably not too far behind, the White Sox will have some interesting roster decisions to make over the next seven to 10 days. Ventura on Friday was not about to reveal the team's direction.
"You are still going through it," Ventura said. "Those are always tough decisions. Right now I'm not going to say who it is.
"It would be bad news for somebody to sit around for three or four days, knowing they are out. We talk about it all the time."
Those three or four days mentioned by Ventura refer to the timetable for Eaton's comeback, with Eaton on the disabled list since May 3 with a strained right hamstring. A starter would have to be moved when Sale returns from the flexor muscle strain, or a starter like Noesi could be moved to the bullpen with a reliever being optioned.
There are a few candidates on the proverbial roster bubble. But Ventura is waiting until the time actually comes to announce those decisions.
Astros: Cosart to debut pitch Saturday
Cosart will unveil a one-seam fastball, designed to sink dramatically in the zone, when he gets the start against the White Sox. Cosart has been working on the pitch for a few weeks with pitching coach Brent Strom and finally felt comfortable enough to throw it in games.
"The two-seam [fastball] is just going to have more horizontal movement, but the one-seam I'm getting more downward action, almost like my changeup but harder," Cosart said. "Probably like 90, 91, 89 [mph], somewhere in that range."
Cosart has leaned mostly on two pitches, relying on his fastball and curveball while throwing an occasional changeup. The idea of the one-seam -- he grips with one finger on a seam and two on the leather -- is to give him something to throw away to lefties and in to right-handers.
"I think Strom wanted me to break it out sooner, but I don't want to risk my performance out there by hitting somebody or whatnot," he said. "I have a pretty good feel for it, and I'll break it out tomorrow and hopefully get some quick outs or maybe some strikeouts."
Cosart has also been working on a new grip on his changeup with Strom.
"I've been doing a lot of different changeup grips trying to find the right one," he said. "I think we did find one, but it's going to take me throwing it to get feedback."
• Tom Paciorek is working with Ken "Hawk" Harrelson in the White Sox television broadcast booth this weekend in Houston. Steve Stone has the series off but will return for Kansas City on Monday.
• Gordon Beckham has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 contests, batting .333 during that stretch.
• Adam Dunn ended an 0-for-11 streak with his go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth on Friday night.
• Jose Altuve has hit in a season-high eight straight games and has multihit efforts in five of his past six games.
• George Springer has an RBI in three straight games.