It was another masterful year of pitching for Dave Roberts’ ball club, and among the surprising high-end production from unexpected places was left-hander Andrew Heaney .
The Dodgers came into the 2022 season with some question marks surrounding their rotation, at least as far as the current standard this club has set, and that was before accounting for basically a lost year from Walker Buehler.
The solution, as it has often been, was in strength in numbers, and although Heaney wasn’t quite able to deliver something close to a full season, he was undoubtedly pretty effective when out there.
Heaney has always been an intriguing pitcher, with a smooth delivery, natural deception, and plus stuff. The tall left-hander has always been on the radar as someone with great upside, but beyond sporadic flashes, Heaney has mostly underwhelmed in his career in the big leagues.
Nevertheless, the potential has led teams to keep coming back time after time, hoping that one adjustment will make everything click, which is why the Dodgers were willing to pay him $8.5 million to pitch for them in the 2022 season after he was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball with the Yankees in the second half of 2021 (7.32 ERA in 35⅔ IP).
The first impression with the Dodgers was very concerning, with Heaney getting rocked in a couple of spring training starts. At that point, he was already set to be a part of the team’s opening day rotation, and with questionable depth behind him, the situation was tenuous.
However, during a bullpen session in Colorado on the team’s first series of the season, Heaney tweaked his breaking ball and took a different version of it to his first outing in Minnesota. You can read more about that slider in this article I wrote for Pitcher List at the beginning of the season.
The new arsenal of almost entirely scratching the changeup and focusing on fastball-slider worked, and Heaney was dominant through two starts, but then the injury bug that would plague him for most of the year came around.
Heaney experienced shoulder problems after his first home start against the Reds, and missed two months on the injured list. He came back and looked very good against the Guardians, striking out seven over five innings of one-run ball, but the shoulder issues crept up again, and Heaney missed another five weeks.
After that second return from the IL, Heaney was able to pitch uninterruptedly through the end of the year and flashed some of that upside, which prompted the Dodgers to go after him in the first place.
Heaney struck out 110 hitters in only 72⅔ innings of work, and the only blemish in his stat line was the long ball that plagued him pretty consistently (14 home runs in 16 games, including 11 in a five-start stretch in August and September). Looking at the overall body of work, it’s no wonder multiple teams have already reportedly expressed interest in his services for next year.
Stats: 4-4. 3.10 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 3.39 xERA, 72⅔ IP, 110 K, 0.7 bWAR, 1.1 fWAR
Salary: $8.5 million
Game of the year
Heaney’s best outing of the year came on April 17 in his home Dodger Stadium debut, when he tossed six scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, three walks, and striking out 11 against the Cincinnati Reds.
Heaney is a free agent.