3 surprising players carrying Dodgers during season-opening hot streak
By Adam Weinrib
3. Andrew Heaney
2. Andrew Heaney
1. Andrew Heaney
Nah, just yanking your chain. Since The Heandog sadly hit the Injured List on Wednesday afternoon, we’ll do you one better and provide you with three other active surprises who’ve helped carry the 2022 Dodgers to a hot start.
Consider Heaney an honorable mention atop an overflowing list of Dodgers who’ve been excellent in April, many of whom carried low expectations on Opening Day. After all, after a spring training (and 2021 … and 2020 …) like that, how confident can you really be in some of these folks?
So, yes, Heaney gets a pat on the back for his 10.1 innings of four-hit ball with 16 whiffs. So does Evan Phillips, who went from potential bullpen fodder and a DFA candidate early in the season to a Pitching Ninja regular with his ridiculous breaking stuff. Think he might be a keeper.
Ditto red-hot Dodgers like (breathes way, way in): Tyler Anderson, Alex Vesia, Austin Barnes, Brusdar Graterol, Justin Bruihl … truly, almost anyone who’s put on the uniform so far, save for the Rockies series to open the campaign. Isn’t that how it always goes?
On top of that massive pile of success, though, these three players stood out. For the long odds they overcame. For the feeling of relief that comes with a particularly great opening month. For the redemption of it all. These three Dodgers have been the most surprising torch-carriers so far in a sprint to the top of the NL West.
3 surprise Dodgers who’ve helped carry 2022 Dodgers
3. Cody Bellinger
Spring! Training! Is! Meaningless!
Early in a shortened 2022 camp, Cody Bellinger looked exactly like the old Bellinger — not the 2018 MVP version. That edition seemed so “old” that any recovery mission meant to find it would come up empty-handed.
No, 2022 Bellinger looked like 2021 Bellinger all over again. Stiff, full of holes, and firmly benchable, considering the Dodgers were once again bringing an All-Star team to play and couldn’t be dragged down by nostalgia.
In the early going of the regular season, though, not only is Bellinger’s swagger back, but so is his penchant for extra-base hits. Through 12 games, the 26-year-old (STILL 26!!) has posted three doubles, a triple and two bombs, OPS+ing 156 and piling up 0.5 WAR.
Compare that to when we last saw him, when he was actively subtracting WAR from a team that ultimately lost the NL West by just a single game, and slugged to a stunningly low 45 OPS+ relative to the rest of the league.
From being a shoo-in long-term contract on the Dodgers’ books to being entirely lost and back again, Bellinger has taken a powerful first step in reestablishing a possible future in Los Angeles. Again, he is 26 years old, which seems outright impossible.
Last time, he might’ve cratered and bent under the weight of high expectations. This season, Bellinger has responded to adversity powerfully, reversing course just when things looked bleakest.