Andrew Heaney was a fixture in the starting rotation for seven seasons after the Angels acquired the left-handed starter from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for infielder Howie Kendrick on December 11, 2014. Through all the ups and downs during his time in southern California (injuries, mediocre team play and even Tyler Skaggs death), Heaney was a mainstay that never could quite get over the hump and become a legitimate ace of the staff.
After a rocky start to the season that saw Heaney allow seven runs in only three innings against the Chicago White Sox on April 2, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy saddled back up in his very next start and pitched lights out on the road versus the Toronto Blue Jays. Tossing six quality innings of shutout baseball to go along with nine strikeouts gave Angels fans hope that a dominant “Heandog” was here to stay for the remainder of the season.
However, when all was said and done, Heaney finished the first two months of the season going 2-3 with a 5.24 ERA and seemingly just treading water by pitching one good game then back pedaling with two or three forgettable outings. The month of June executed this point perfectly as he started the month on the right foot tossing back-to-back quality starts into the seventh inning and allowing one run (June 1 @ SF & June 8 vs. KC) en route to victories for the Angels. Heaney displayed confidence in these starts and even picked up his third career base hit in the game against the Giants.
Yesterday, Andrew Heaney struck out seven and recorded his third career hit! #CarryTheFreight pic.twitter.com/eTGCvV4bW8— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 2, 2021
After the small burst of success, five clunkers ensued collecting 22 earned runs in just 23.1 innings, adding over a run to his inflated ERA from 4.37 to 5.56. During his final road start in an Angels uniform against the Minnesota Twins on July 22, “Heandog” picked up a much needed win going seven innings and collecting seven strikeouts in a 3-2 Angels victory.
Heaney finished his Halos career going 30-33, with a 4.51 ERA in 102 starts, while striking out 593 in 569.1 innings. By being within the Angels organization for so many moments and milestones in his career, it was apparent Heaney was emotional over the trade to the New York Yankees on July 31, penning a touching tribute to fans on Twitter:
Yesterday was an emotional day! pic.twitter.com/zS9yrW1K1C— Andrew Heaney (@Heandog8) July 31, 2021
18 Games / 6-7 Record / 5.27 ERA / 94 Innings Pitched / 113 Strikeouts / 31 Walks / 1.31 WHIP / .252 Opp Avg. / 92 Hits Allowed / 56 Runs Allowed / 16 Home Runs Allowed
*With Angels (April-July)
As a starting pitcher, it is surprising that Heaney prides himself only as a three-pitch pitcher as most starters in Major League Baseball go with the typical four or five pitch repertoire. His 4-Seam Fastball (59.4%), Curveball (22.6%) and Changeup (18%) combine to make him known as a ground ball pitcher (45.1%) even with a lower average velocity. With a Fastball hovering around 92 MPH, ranking in the 29th percentile in MLB, it is his Curveball (79.4 MPH) that gets the largest Whiff percentage (35.1%) and is the go-to out pitch in most scenarios. Looking at his splits in 2021, Heaney pitched evenly against left and right-handed batters, which in theory sounds productive, but with a sweeping arm slot in his delivery, one would expect his numbers to be much better especially in the lefty vs. lefty situations. The aspect of his pitch arsenal that got Heaney in the most trouble was yielding two-out runs and his inability to limit opposing home runs. In four of his seven seasons, Heaney allowed 12+ home runs, with three seasons surpassing 20 (2018, 2019 and 2021).
BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
After struggling to end the month of April with a loss to the Seattle Mariners, allowing four earned runs in 3.1 innings, Heaney bounced back to kick off May with a dominating start against the Tampa Bay Rays. The southpaw matched a season-high mark of 10 strikeouts, while shutting out the Rays through 6.2 innings. He recorded a strikeout against eight of the nine Rays starters and yielded just four hits (three singles and one double) in a 110-pitch effort.
The Angels had a 3-0 advantage when Heaney exited the game, but the lead quickly dissipated as the bullpen surrendered seven runs in the eighth inning, leading to a 8-3 Rays victory.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2022
After a seven-year career with the Angels (2015-2021), Heaney will not be on the Opening Day roster as he signed a 1-Year/$8 Million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers on November 10. He will look to factor in a rotation that already has Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Trevor Bauer (barring suspension from ongoing investigation) and Dustin May (recovering from Tommy John surgery), along with any potential free-agents they may sign or trade for this offseason.