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Is this the season Andrew Heaney stays healthy?

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The team has waited a long time for the former top pick to become an ace.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

A long time ago (really only 2012), Andrew Heaney was a ninth-overall selection by the Miami Marlins. (If it surprises you that the Marlins picked as low as ninth, it surprises me too.) With a nasty assortment of pitches, he projected to be the next great lefty ace. He slowly worked his way up the Marlins’ farm system and the prospect rankings, and he made his MLB debut in 2014, but the team decided to deal him to the Dodgers (where he would be quickly flipped over to the Angels). He entered the 2015 season as a top-30 prospect on multiple sources (MLB.com and the now-defunct Minor League Ball).

Heaney made his first Angels start in late-June 2015, and (this may be surprising to some, but) he didn’t miss a start that season. In what was slightly over a half-season of work, Heaney pitched 105.2 innings, compiling a 3.49 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. In fact, if you aggregate his innings total across the Majors and Minors in 2015, Heaney pitched over 180 innings. A workhorse!

As fans know, it all went downhill from there. In Heaney’s first start of 2016, he felt shoulder discomfort, and he was shut down. Later, it was determined that he needed Tommy John surgery, and he would miss the rest of 2016 and most of 2017. The vast majority of two seasons was lost.

We turned the page to 2018, where Heaney got off to a late start to the season because of elbow inflammation in his throwing arm, but the ailment turned out to be a red herring. Heaney rebounded after return from nearly two seasons missed to throw 180 innings, garnering a 4.15 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Although the numbers weren’t there, it was his first season back, and he did pitch the innings that any quality starter should be expected to pitch. Surely he would carry the momentum into 2019.

A combination of factors meant Heaney’s 2019 would be poor. Once again, he started the season a few weeks late, this time because of the elbow. He then had a shoulder problem in late July that caused him to miss several starts. Coupled with the fact that the juiced ball across MLB soared home run rates, Heaney’s 2019 does not look pretty, and he finished with a 92 ERA+ because he was especially susceptible to the home run ball (no, it was not a product of the Astros beating up on Heaney).

Enter 2020, where the Angels seem to be back to square one with Heaney. He’s reasonably priced, earning under $5 million this season, and he does have two more years of control. However, the question still lingers: will Andrew Heaney remain healthy and will he pitch at the level that got him drafted ninth overall once upon a time?