Andrew Heaney dominating for Dodgers is nauseating for Yankees fans


At last year’s trade deadline, the New York Yankees’ final move at the buzzer was acquiring Andrew Heaney from the Los Angeles Angels, which confused just about the entire fanbase.

OK … pitching depth? But at what cost? Heaney is a soft-throwing lefty that never really caught on. His career-best season was in 2018 when he went 9-10 with a 4.15 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.20 WHIP and 180 strikeouts in 30 starts (180 innings). Before the deal, he owned a 5.27 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 18 starts with LA.

Then came his tenure with the Yankees. 12 games (five starts) ended in disaster: 7.32 ERA, 6.93 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 13 home runs in 35.2 innings, and only 37 strikeouts compared to his previous 113 in 94 innings with the Angels.

Without exaggeration, he was one of the most disliked Yankees in recent memory despite barely spending two months with the team. There’s no doubt his awful play contributed to the Yankees’ inability to secure home field advantage for the AL Wild Card Game against the Boston Red Sox.

Then came the offseason. With the lockout looming just weeks after the World Series had ended, the Los Angeles Dodgers pounced at the opportunity to sign Heaney and inked him to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. The response from Yankees fans? “Enjoy! He’s your problem now!”

At the time, it wasn’t necessarily the wrong response. That much money for what we’ve seen from Heaney since his debut in 2014 seemed absurd … until it didn’t. Because now he’s dominating with the Dodgers.

It’s only been two starts … and he’s faced nothing special in the Twins and Reds, but he wasn’t even close to these kinds of outings with the Yankees outside of his gem against the Red Sox in mid-August. He had just one quality start and hit rock bottom when he allowed four earned runs in 1/3 of an inning against the Orioles, which ended up being one of the most embarrassing losses of the season.

In his first couple outings since leaving New York, he’s allowed zero home runs, four hits and just three walks in 10.1 innings. Much of that has to do with his new and improved “sweeper,” which he introduced this year, as well as a footwork/position adjustment on the mound. His “sweeper” is just a more active slider, which throws off hitters’ sight lines drastically as long as he’s able to locate his fastball (which he’s also been doing well).

It’s a small sample size, but Heaney has thrown that slider 48.1% of the time compared to 48.7% for his fastball and just 3.2% for his changeup. Keep an eye on that, because Heaney never threw his slider higher than 27% or his changeup lower than 15% for an entire season.

The Yankees are by no means “missing” Heaney because they have one of the best pitching staffs in MLB without him, but just knowing this is what they were looking to “unlock” with him last year, while now being forced to watch it in a completely different setting, is beyond frustrating.

Had he been 50% toward this progress in the final two months of last season, we could be talking about a deeper playoff run instead of another embarrassing early exit.