There is a lot of criticism to go around after three Dodgers playoff games, with the offense taking most of the blame. But for this piece, we’ll focus on Andrew Heaney, a pitcher that carried concerns with his role and his struggles with the long ball, yet did an admirable job in the Game 3 loss.
Heaney gave up a home run to Trent Grisham in the fourth inning that provided San Diego’s winning margin, but that does not reflect on how well Heaney pitched.
Tony Gonsolin got the ball for Game 3 instead of Tyler Anderson, with one of the main reasons being that the bullpen would be coming off a day of rest, and thus able to cover a higher number of outs, obviously a need with Gonsolin’s arm not fully built up to mid-season form, returning from a forearm strain.
Understanding that Anderson will be able to provide length in Game 4 if all goes well, Dave Roberts also probably figured he’d be able to use Heaney in Game 3 to cover multiple innings. But he probably never figured he’d need to call upon him after four outs and many baserunners.
It didn’t take long to realize Gonsolin didn’t have it, and Heaney was thrust into a delicate situation with two runners on, one out, and the top of the order coming up in the second inning. Fortunately, he was able to get Jurickson Profar and Juan Soto to end the frame.
During Heaney’s last outing of the year, it was discussed in the group chat that his success in the postseason would be primarily dictated by whether he would allow solo shots or three-run bombs. Heaney looked dominant at various times throughout the season and carried a ridiculous 35.5 strikeout rate, but most of the time he got hurt it was with the long ball.
He did allow one home run in tonight’s game, a solo shot to Grisham, but despite laboring throughout his whole outing, Heaney was able to accomplish two things, one of each may prove significant in Game 4:
- Heaney allowed multiple base-runners, but only conceded one run, thus keeping the Dodgers in the game for basically the entire night, and did that while coming into an unnatural situation as a fireman, with two runners on, and only one out.
- By covering nine outs, Heaney allowed Roberts not to need to overuse his bullpen in a game that was tight from start to finish, even if it felt like the Padres were in control for most of it.
Most of the Dodgers’ top relief arms had to come into the game to keep it at 2-1, but no one was overused, and outside of Heaney, they should all be available for a win-or-go-home Game 4.
Heaney was definitely not as sharp as he has been at most times in 2022, but the southpaw came up big in this Game 3 even if the Dodgers ultimately left with a loss. If the best offense in baseball is scoring only one run in a postseason game, regardless of where it is, or who they are going against, and has yet to show any good production against a bullpen, well, then the burden falls on them.
On a night when they had to work a lot because Gonsolin struggled, the Dodgers’ bullpen did more than just carry its weight, and the majority of that work was done by Andrew Heaney.