Fresh off a Tony Gonsolin masterclass, the Los Angeles Dodgers appear to be ready to double down on pitching surprises, an effective strategy if your bats happen to be slumping and/or running into walls.
Remember Andrew Heaney? He’s both difficult to recall and impossible to forget. During the season’s first 10 days, featuring a frigid trip to Minnesota, Heaney was the dominant topic of conversation (until Clayton Kershaw flirted with a perfect game, and Dave Roberts decided to un-flirt with the concept).
After a pair of brilliant starts (10.1 innings, 16 Ks, zero earned runs allowed), Dodgers fans crowed about how not only was Heaney fixable as a long-term project, but he’d already been fixed. Boom. Forget the tough spring training; it only took two outings to make a finished product better than the Yankees could.
That’s when the injury bug struck, stiffening Heaney’s shoulder and knocking him out indefinitely. Luckily for all of us, “indefinitely” means “just under two months,” and Heaney just wrapped his third dominant rehab start, with a big-league return around the corner.
His next appearance will be with the big club — and just in time, too, considering there’s very clearly nothing left for him to prove at Triple-A.
Dodgers’ Andrew Heaney rehab stats are dominant
So, for those keeping track (and you all should be), that’s one single earned run allowed by Heaney and his big, sweeping slider in 22.1 innings across levels this year (with a two-month gap). 25 strikeouts, too. That’ll play.
Heaney has always been an enigma, but he was a former top-10 pick for a reason: underrated swing-and-miss stuff despite his now-middling velocity. The main problem with Heaney was his singular inability to stay out of the zone and remain unhittable; his fastball, despite elite spin, seemingly always played down.
But maybe not anymore, thanks to increased reliance on his exceptional slider inspired by the Dodgers’ pitching factory?
What if Heaney’s Summer 2021 start where he bamboozled the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium simply happened … all the time?
Dodgers fans might be on the verge of finding out, as his next start should come with the big-league club. Add in Dustin May’s eventual return, and the three-headed monster of Gonsolin, Heaney and May could be an unexpected way to paper over Walker Buehler’s absence.