The Los Angeles Dodgers are always on the lookout for pitching, and after ending the season with only a handful of healthy starters, they want to make sure they have a boatload of quality arms available in 2022.
Late last week, the Dodgers decided to take a chance on left-hander Andrew Heaney on a one-year contract.
Los Angeles lost Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw to free agency, and while both pitchers stand a good chance of re-signing, it’s not a given by any means, especially Scherzer.
Additionally, Dustin May is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected to be ready to pitch in the first half of the 2022 season.
More Than Just A Flier
That’s why the Dodgers decided to take a flier on Heaney.
However, it’s fair to point out that it’s not a particularly cheap “flier.”
Los Angeles will pay Heaney $8.5 million for the 2022 season.
So, considering the price tag, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Dodgers are showing faith in Heaney.
Heaney, a fly-ball pitcher, didn’t have a particularly good season in the Bronx after being acquired by the pitching-needy New York Yankees at the deadline.
With the Los Angeles Angels, he had a 5.27 ERA in 18 starts and 94 innings.
However, other run-prevention metrics such as Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and expected FIP showed a completely different picture: he had 4.06 and 3.80 marks, respectively.
Largest gap between actual & expected ERA, 2021 (min 350 batted balls):
Andrew Heaney: 1.85 (5.83 ERA, 3.98 xERA)
Aaron Nola: 1.26 (4.63 ERA, 3.37 xERA)
Eduardo Rodriguez: 1.22 (4.74 ERA, 3.52 xERA)
(xERA: Based on quality of contact + walks, strikeouts)
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) November 15, 2021
After being traded to the Yankees, he had severe issues with the home run ball, and finished with an ugly 7.32 ERA in 35.2 frames.
Granted, his 6.93 FIP and 4.96 FIP were lower, but still bad.
Between the two teams, his 5.83 ERA in 129.2 innings was pretty forgettable.
Over those 35.2 episodes with New York, Heaney allowed 13 home runs, an outrageous number.
There Is Hope For Heaney On The Dodgers
Heaney has always had high ERAs because of his propensity to concede home runs, but his excellent strikeout rates give the Dodgers, in this case, a lot of hope.
He has a solid 24.2 strikeout rate for his career, and consistently strikes out more than a batter per inning.
Working with a new pitching coach on the go with the Yankees, during the regular season, could have been detrimental to Heaney.
It’s not always fair to expect someone (not even the great Matt Blake) to “fix” or “get the best out of a pitcher” while working with him for only a handful of days and/or weeks.
That’s why the Dodgers made a pretty good decision by bringing Heaney early in the offseason: to give their coaching and player development staff ample time to identify issues and mechanical flaws, and work with the pitcher for an extended period of time in improving them.
Andrew Heaney with the Dodgers lab pic.twitter.com/4NUjDghlq7
— Cam (@Ballplayer_27) November 8, 2021
For a team like the Dodgers, who have proved they don’t care about the luxury tax penalties (they just want to win), spending $8.5 million on a pitcher with a 4.72 ERA is a gamble worth taking.
With several months to improve and work on his craft, Heaney has the potential to be a much-improved pitcher for the 2022 Dodgers.
They certainly have the tools to pull it off: a good pitcher with strikeout upside and a great team of specialists capable of putting him in the best position to succeed.NEXT: 2 Reasons Dodgers Must Retain Clayton Kershaw