Dodgers Spring Training: Andrew Heaney Attributes Struggles To Testing New Breaking Ball

The Los Angeles Dodgers hold strong starting pitching in very high regard and losing Max Scherzer in free agency was troublesome due to Clayton Kershaw’s future with the organization still being up in the air at the time.

L.A. was able to re-sign Kershaw, but the backend of their starting rotation remained a question mark. Just before the MLB lockout began, the Dodgers signed Andrew Heaney to a one-year, $8.5 million contract with incentives for innings pitched.

Heaney went a combined 8-9 with a 5.83 ERA, 4.85 FIP and 1.32 WHIP in 30 games (23 starts) for the L.A. Angels and New York Yankees last season, but the Dodgers signed him based on his peripherals and their ability to accentuate his strengths.

So far, Heaney’s struggles have continued into Spring Training as he owns a 16.88 ERA in his 5.1 innings pitched, with two home runs allowed. However, the left-hander he said those woes aren’t coming without progress on a new breaking ball and other adjustments, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“I’m trying some new things. I think today was better than the last time out,” Heaney said. “There are some things I’m trying to do with the breaking ball that I haven’t done before. There were some times that it felt really good. Other times, not so great.

“I think I was really trying to push myself to throw the breaking ball a little bit more and find spots, hitters, places to put it, not put it and sometimes giving up some hard-hit balls, I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s not where I want to put it against guys like that.’ You want it to be breezy, obviously, but there are some times that it’s almost kind of good to kinda see what you can and can’t do out there.”

The Dodgers have had a remarkable run of strong starting pitching. They have ranked in the top five in MLB in regards to regular season ERA every season dating back to 2011, which the exception of one year.

L.A. being able to snag Heaney and banking on untapped potential is a move that still looks to be a work in progress, but just as several executives believe his breakout could be similar to that of Robbie Ray’s, Heaney is worth tinkering with.

Heaney in Dodgers Opening Day rotation

Manager Dave Roberts recently indicated Heaney and Tony Gonsolin were poised to be the final two members of the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation. What order they will slot in remains undecided.

Although the left-hander has struggled thus far, Gonsolin has found more success.

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