Although Andrew Heaney has been one of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ best starting pitchers when on the mound this season, he has recently fallen into trouble with the home run ball.
Entering his start on Monday, Heaney had given up a combined six home runs in his previous three starts after allowing just one through seven outings. That trend continued in a big way in the series opener against the San Francisco Giants as the left-hander gave up four home runs in just 5.1 innings, which allowed six runs to score.
While baseballs tend to travel more in hot weather and Dodger Stadium was 90 degrees at first pitch, Heaney believes that wasn’t a factor in his struggles. “I was throwing [expletive] right down the middle,” Heaney said.
“Didn’t do a good job of mixing pitches very well, didn’t put guys away. Made mistakes and they capitalized. Just kind of a culmination of a few things.”
The 31-year-old also said he wasn’t to able to make the changes to fix the issue during the game and credited Giants batters for taking advantage of his mistake pitches.
“Usually you can kind of make an adjustment in the game, but it just kind of felt like tried to throw some of those heaters up, and they ended up middle,” Heaney said. “Tried to kind of flip a changeup in there, it stayed up. Just a couple of those pitches and they did a good job capitalizing on them.”
Heaney has previously dealt with home run problems throughout his career, including allowing 2.01 per nine innings last season before he was designated for assignment. Over his career, Heaney has given up an average of 1.60 per nine with a home run to fly ball ratio of 15.8%.
Despite his poor outing, Heaney still owns a 2.94 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 78 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched. Still, there will need to be improvement with his home run rate or he will likely find himself pitching out of the bullpen once the postseason comes.
Dave Roberts: pitch sequencing a factor for Andrew Heaney
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts shared the same belief that Heaney is leaving too many pitches over the heart of the plate, and also sees pitch selection as an issue.
“I think that the main adjustment with these homers is he’s making mistakes over the middle of the plate, heart of the plate,” Roberts said. “I think that there’s some sequencing things that we can kind of clean up going forward.”
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