Andrew Heaney seeking better results in second Yankees start
Since Andrew Heaney made his disappointing first start in a Yankees uniform, Anthony Rizzo has continued to make a daily impact with his bat and glove, Joey Gallo won a game with a towering three-run homer and reliever Clay Holmes put up another scoreless outing.
Heaney is hoping finally to join the party Saturday in his second chance to make a good first impression, as most of the rest of his trade-deadline acquisitions already have.
After getting crushed for four home runs in his Yankees debut Monday against the Orioles, Heaney will take the mound Saturday against the Mariners in The Bronx. Before facing a more familiar foe from his AL West days, the former Angels lefty spent time tweaking his mechanics with pitching coach Matt Blake and hopes to see the work pay off.
“I made quite a few mistakes pulling my changeup across my body a little bit,” Heaney said Friday before the Yankees’ 3-2, inning win over Seattle. “So we’ve got a couple things in the works that we’ve been working on in my bullpen and in catch-play.
“It felt very good just playing catch right after my start and taking that into the bullpen. It’s something I feel pretty confident in.”
Just one of the home runs Heaney gave up against the Orioles came on his changeup — the fourth and final one, hit by Ramon Urias in the fourth inning — but Heaney believes the adjustment will help more than just that pitch.
“I think it’ll clean up a lot of different things, but I think it’s more noticeable for me on my changeup versus any other pitch,” said Heaney, who had a 5.27 ERA in 18 starts for the Angels this season. “It’s more of a directional thing, so that definitely keeps everything more through the zone as opposed to kind of around it.”
The Yankees could certainly use an improved Heaney, especially given how dramatically their rotation has changed since they acquired him last Friday in exchange for a pair of minor league pitchers. On Sunday, the Yankees lost one starter when they placed Domingo German on the injured list with a rotator cuff strain.
Then after Heaney’s start on Monday, manager Aaron Boone revealed that ace Gerrit Cole had tested positive for COVID-19, and by Tuesday, lefty Jordan Montgomery had joined him on the COVID IL.
Their absences — German was shut down for around 7-10 days while Cole and Montgomery will likely be out for at least 10 days — turned Heaney from a fifth starter into one of just four healthy starters along with Jameson Taillon, Nestor Cortes Jr. (whom Heaney had briefly bumped to the bullpen) and new call-up Luis Gil.
The Yankees’ rotation has been key to their recent turnaround, as starters had posted a 2.60 ERA in their last 26 games before Friday. They need Heaney to follow suit as they continue to chase a playoff spot without their top arms.
Heaney will take the mound feeling a bit more settled this time around after a whirlwind few days preceded his Yankees debut.
“Kind of getting into my routine [now],” Heaney said. “Talking with each of the different departments and tweaking a few things. It’s definitely been a little bit different for me, but it’s been a good process. Everybody here has been great in helping me get acclimated quickly.”
While the Orioles were an unfamiliar opponent, he has thrown 75 ²/₃ career innings against the Mariners — his second-most against any opponent. That includes two starts this season, in which he gave up eight runs across 7 ¹/₃ innings.
“I have a pretty good idea of the lineup I’m going to be facing,” Heaney said. “It was interesting to see how the scouting report here is a little different than the one in Anaheim and keying in on some of those differences.”