Andrew Heaney has hit a rough patch in his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as his career struggles with allowing home runs returned.
After a few stints on the injured list early in the season, Heaney returned July 27 with a determination to remain healthy and contribute. His three starts immediately following the activation went well. Heaney allowed just one earned run in 12.2 innings while notching 14 strikeouts, bringing his season ERA to 0.64 to go along with a 2.33 FIP and 1.00 WHIP.
But Heaney’s last five starts haven’t gone nearly as well. He’s posted a 5.63 ERA while allowing 10 home runs in just 24 innings. Prior to the current stretch, he had allowed just one homer, which manager Dave Roberts believes can be fixed.
“I think the main adjustment with these homers is he’s making mistakes in the middle of the plate. I think there’s some sequencing things we can kind of clean up going forward,” said Roberts. “But as long as he’s healthy, the stuff is good, and I’ll bet on the command going forward.”
Heaney’s most recent start was his worst of the season after surrendering six earned runs including four homers in 5.1 innings, earning the loss.
“We have time. I know he was upset tonight, and I think that’s a good thing. He’s been here before. Certainly, the first handful of starts, it seemed pretty easy for him,” Roberts said. “He’s still striking out a lot of guys, but yeah been a victim of the long ball the last two and a half outings, or something like that. He’ll be fine. I know he’ll be ready to go his next turn.”
Outside of the damage, one outlier is Heaney’s 15.38 strikeouts per nine innings dating back to Aug. 13. His ability to miss bats is still there, signaling some positive signs that Heaney and the Dodgers can highlight heading into the playoff push.
“I don’t know. The last four outings he’s had a ton of strikeouts, virtually no walks, but there’s been an uptick in home runs. I don’t know that answer,” Roberts said. “I think the mistakes that he is making, they’re going out of the ballpark instead of mishitting or fouling off.
“I think the internal numbers, as long as he’s throwing the ball well, the stuff’s good, there’s swing-and-miss in there, and something we can certainly build on.”
Andrew Heaney: home run struggles are the ‘culmination of a few things’
As a whole this season, Heaney has been one of the Dodgers’ best starting pitchers for most of the year, but as of late, he’s entered territory where a high rate of hits allowed are clearing the fence.
“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,” Heaney said after his last start.
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%.
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