Andrew Heaney signed with the Dodgers last week, their first addition of the offseason, the timing accelerated by Heaney getting sent outright to the minors by the Yankees on October 5, and the left-hander electing free agency a month before most players.
The extra time with Dodgers pitching coaches allows Heaney the time to improve on his 5.83 ERA and 4.85 FIP in 2021, though with relative underlying strengths of a 26.9-percent strikeout rate and 4.04 xERA.
“I know that I’m much better than my numbers say I was last year,” Heaney told reporters last week.
Michael Ajeto at Baseball Prospectus suggests that Heaney’s curveball can be tweaked to move more side-to-side, much like Julio Urías transformed his breaking ball:
Adding a sweeper works on several levels. Against righties, he’ll be able to lean on his fastball and changeup less by backfooting curveballs with frequency. Fewer changeups should mean fewer home runs, and a curveball could function symbiotically with both other offerings. Right now, Heaney doesn’t have an elite secondary that lingers in the back of hitters’ minds. A sweeper could be just that.
Devan Fink at FanGraphs noted Heaney’s propensity for leaving too many fastballs over the middle of the plate as one area the left-hander could improve, specifically by raising the height of his fastball.
“There’s a statistically significant relationship between Heaney’s four-seam fastball height and swings and misses,” Fink wrote. “But it also suggests that there’s a very clear way to limit hard contact and also get whiffs, and that is by throwing fastballs up and out of the zone more regularly. The Dodgers should want Heaney to climb the ladder.”
Heaney’s one-year contract guarantees $8.5 million. Per the Associated Press, the left-hander can earn up to $1 million in performance bonuses — $250,000 for each of 100, 125, 150, and 175 innings.
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