The Los Angeles Dodgers opened the offseason with the signing of Andrew Heaney to a one-year contract worth $8.5 million.
The left-hander is coming off a forgettable season in which he pitched to a combined 5.83 ERA, 4.85 FIP and 1.32 WHIP across 30 games (23 starts) for the L.A. Angels and New York Yankees.
Despite his struggles, Heaney received contract offers from more than 10 teams because of his underlying numbers that suggest he should easily bounce back this year.
The Cincinnati Reds were among the teams interested in Heaney, according to Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer:
The Reds, who have an open fifth spot in the rotation after parting with Wade Miley, showed some interest in starting pitcher Andrew Heaney before he signed with the Dodgers in mid-November, according to a league source.
The Reds’ interest in Heaney is notable because their pitching coordinator is Kyle Boddy, the founder of Driveline Baseball, which is a baseball training facility that focuses on data and science to improve performance.
Driveline has become a premier place for MLB pitchers to train and they helped Clayton Kershaw regain some of his velocity prior to the 2020 season.
Like those 10 teams, the Dodgers believe there is real upside to Heaney and think they can help him unlock some of his potential.
He is coming off a season in which he struck out nearly 27% of hitters and he posted a career-high of 28.9% in 2019. He also limits walks well. Both skills provide a great starting point for any pitcher.
Heaney’s fastball spin rate is in the 90th percentile of all pitchers and he also gets hitters to chase at an elite rate, which both help contribute to strikeouts.
Heaney primarily throws his fastball, using it around 60% of the time, and adds in a curveball (22%) and changeup (18%). The Dodgers might ask him to use his fastball less as hitters posted a .271 average and slugged .537 against it.
If the Dodgers ask Heaney to throw a fastball less frequently, he could end up pitching in a style more similar to Julio Urias, who uses the fastball less than 50% of the time and his curveball more than a third of the time.
A slider would also complement his arsenal well, and that is something the Dodgers have had success teaching their pitchers.
Heaney: ‘I’m much better’ than 2021 stats suggest
While Heaney still needs to prove he can find more success with the Dodgers, he enters 2022 confident in his abilities despite the rough 2021.
“I know that I’m much better than my numbers say I was last year,” Heaney said. “I think it was really exciting and eye-opening to see not just the Dodgers, but how many other teams felt the same way.
“At the same time, I wanted to have a really good partnership with whatever team I signed with was a team that believed what I can be and has a process in place to help me get there.”
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