If the New York Yankees dangle one of their worst performers on the open market, the Los Angeles Dodgers should be at the front of the line. At this point, it’s just science. Even if a deal doesn’t provide direct on-field benefits, the two teams will still tilt further in opposite directions, as evidenced by last week’s Joey Gallo swap.
More on that in a bit. The two diverging paths date all the way back to the offseason, when the Dodgers watched Andrew Heaney’s horrific two months in pinstripes and decided they could still save him in a way the Yankees were unable to. They made Heaney the very first signing of the offseason at a dollar level some found exorbitant … and LA’s front office was correct to do so.
Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake tried to fix Heaney on the fly last summer, but instead, he turned Heaney into The Fly, aka a shrinking, retching half-man/half-bug. In two months with the Yanks, Heaney was a longball machine, surrendering 13 bombs in 35.2 innings pitched, which undid his 37 strikeouts and left him with a 7.32 ERA.
This season in Los Angeles, despite some injury bumps in the road and a few minor-league, get-right stints? Heaney has struck out the same number of men in 28 innings, surrendering … just two earned runs, as well as a single bomb.
One single, solitary home run. Astounding.
Yankees lost Andrew Heaney and Joey Gallo’s best to Dodgers
Though there’s not nearly enough Statcast data to go off yet in grading Heaney’s performance, he’s shown the same old remarkable propensity for high spin, and is riding high in shorter stints by design. Heaney hasn’t eclipsed five innings since the six dominant mid-winter innings that initially sent him to the IL back in April. As long as the team’s infrastructure can keep competing around him, the Dodgers will take four- and five-inning shutout chunks, for what it’s worth.
Often, in New York, Heaney’s starts lasted less than five innings, but never on purpose.
From reality to the metaphysical, though, the Dodgers also appear to have nabbed the upper hand on the Yankees simply by adding a struggling Joey Gallo to their lineup. Thus far in Los Angeles, Gallo has gone 2-for-10 with two singles (one off a position player) and six strikeouts through play on Sunday.
His mere presence, though, has been enough to hex the Yankees.
Would Brian Cashman have dared to trade Gallo if he’d known he was a lucky rabbit’s foot?
The Dodgers probably won’t finish the second half undefeated, and the Yankees are unlikely to continue a winless stretch run. But even though LA might be getting lucky with Gallo so far, there’s nothing accidental about Heaney’s dominance — and the Yankees just couldn’t figure him out.
So far, the Baseball Gods seem to be repaying the Dodgers’ ingenuity.