Ace In The Making: Could Andrew Heaney Emerge In 2020? One Small Change Could Make It Happen…


The Angels’ Andrew Heaney is a polarizing player for fantasy owners, as some see him as a potential difference maker while others perceive him as an afterthought. Injuries have helped to cloud the issue, at least a little bit, after being limited to 95.1 IP this past season. Even in those innings he was a bit of a mixed bag:

  • The Bad – 4.91 ERA, 1.89 HR/9
  • The Good – 11.14 K/9, 2.83 BB/9

Obviously the good was really good, including 24 K between two starts against the Rangers in August. There is no questioning his ability to generate swings and misses, having posted a 14.1% SwStr% and showing that he can get them with several pitches (Whiff%):

  • Curveball – 19.78%
  • Changeup – 15.35%
  • Sinker – 12.97%

He’s also always shown good control, including a 2.25 BB/9 over 180.0 IP in ’18 (and a 2.4 BB/9 over his minor league career). With those two skills you’d think it would make him an easy investment, outside of the potential health concerns, but then we look at the groundballs and home runs.

For a pitcher who threw his sinker 58.00% of the time, he generated very few groundballs (33.6%). That helped lead to the significant home run issues, and in turn the ugly ERA. He was at least a little bit better in ’18 (41.2%), though a 1.35 HR/9 was still there.

So home runs are going to be an issue, and the fact that he was routinely hit hard (47.6% Hard%) just makes matters even worse. That just makes the home runs and a potential bloated BABIP (.312 last season) a realistic threat, and all of the strikeouts and control won’t matter.

It’s a significant concern, but there’s hope when you look at the splits for the left-handed pitcher:

  • vs. LHH – .321/.374/.548
  • vs. RHH – .231/.302/.427

That’s the exact opposite than you’d expect, and he was far better the year before when he held left-handed hitters to a slash of .229/.255/.288. You can argue that it was the lack of a third pitch, as he threw just 8 changeups to left-handed hitters all year long (though he used the pitch just twice the year before). He needs to find another pitch to use against lefties, or nothing may change.

If he can solve that issue, even with the home run risks, the potential is there to mature into an above average fantasy asset (think Top 35 SP). That makes him worth considering, especially since the price should not be exceptionally high this offseason. It will be interesting to see if there’s talk of him adding a pitch, and while we generally glaze over those in this case it will hold significant meaning and only add fuel to the fire as a potential buy.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball

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