Yesterday I wrote about Andrew Heaney and some of the early “bust” talk that had begun to circle the talented lefty. I largely dismissed that notion based on his body of minor league work, which was outstanding, refusing to listen to the small sample size of his major league career. Apparently, his struggles for the Fish had reached a point that the Marlins could no longer ignore. After the Marlins thrilling 6-5 victory on Saturday afternoon, Heaney was demoted back to AAA New Orleans. Heaney allowed 5 runs in less than 4 innings of work for Miami, inflating his ERA to 6.53 on the season.
Obviously, Heaney has been struggling. I am not going to debate whether or not Miami should have sent him down. I will save that for other people here at Marlin Maniac. What I am interested in, is what is next for Heaney?
By rejoining the Zephyrs, it is likely that he will be able to work some more on his location. To me, that was one thing that really hurt him. He struggled to locate pitches, particularly in situations with runners on base. Maybe that can be attributed to his level of comfort working out of the stretch.
That’s it. That is all he needs to work on….
Wait, one more thing. He needs to get lucky.
When looking at his advanced statistics through his 4 starts, it is clear that his strengths in the minor leagues have not translated to the majors. For instance, his home runs per 9 innings have hovered in the 0.38 range since being drafted. After today’s start he is sporting a healthy 2.18 number. Now I am no math major, but that is a significant hike. Another number that has not gone his way is his strand rate. He typically leaves about 78% of the runners that reach base on the paths without scoring, yet since arriving in the majors, that number is 63.3%, almost 15% lower.
Unfortunately for Heaney, he isn’t backed by all the data. His FIP and BABIP numbers aren’t too bad, and he actually is walking about a half a batter less than usual. That also tells me that he is avoiding walks by pitching to contact. Usually a sound strategy, but it is obviously hurting him since he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball.
It sounds crazy, but Heaney really doesn’t need to change a whole lot about what he is doing. I believe that the home run rate will return to normal once he makes it back to the big leagues, and I really believe that he has a bright future ahead of him.
All major leaguers struggle at one point or another. Adversity is as big a part of the game as anything. The key is seeing how players respond to it at the highest level. This kid really seems to have all the confidence in the world in himself, and that will go a long way.
We haven’t seen the last of Heaney in 2014, you can bet on it.