Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has been suggesting the team may take an unconventional approach with their pitching staff during the postseason because of injuries, and some of that was seen with Andrew Heaney appearing out of the bullpen on Thursday night.
Rather than make his turn in the rotation, Heaney entered the game in the second inning. Brusdar Graterol was utilized as an opener for the first time this season.
The combination paid off as Graterol only allowed soft contact and was hurt by a Trea Turner misplay, and Heaney followed him with four scoreless innings.
After the Dodgers’ 5-2 win, Heaney said there was a minor adjustment with finding a rhythm out of the bullpen but it otherwise was like any other game, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“Pretty normal routine, just a little bit later start. And then kind of just timing it up with the first inning. Not too crazy. More like getting out there and getting into the flow of the game. My first inning, I kind of had some adrenaline going and then kind of settled in after that.”
Heaney went on to express confidence he could pitch out of the Dodgers bullpen during the postseason and will be aided by getting experience to do so before the regular season ends:
“Yeah, I think it was nice to get the experience in a live game. I’ve come out of the ‘pen before, but not in a big situation. More in just games that are kind of mop-up games.”
Heaney finished his time with the New York Yankees last season by pitching out of the bullpen, but due to struggling as a member of their rotation.
Such a change with the Dodgers would stem more from the team trying to best leverage their pitching staff that will be saddled by Tony Gonsolin — and potentially Dustin May — not being fully stretched out.
Heaney profiles as an ideal relief pitcher due to his high strikeout rate, but a recent rise in home runs allowed could prove to be somewhat problematic.
Dodgers could use Tony Gonsolin & Andrew Heaney in piggyback
Although Gonsolin is set to return to the Dodgers rotation on Monday, he isn’t expected to be capable of providing more than four innings in a start or appearance during the National League Division Series.
The Dodgers could elect to have a piggyback with Gonsolin starting a potential Game 4, and follow him with Heaney. Gonsolin began the season in such an arrangement with Tyler Anderson, who recently was named to the Dodgers postseason rotation.
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