As previously declared during the first attempted spring training, Andrew Heaney will be the opening day starter for the Angels in 2020.
There are a lot of things that will look different about baseball when the regular season begins to play in late July. However, some things will remain untouched by COVID-19. That includes the Opening Day starter for the Los Angeles Angels.
In speaking with the media on Sunday (including Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com), Angels’ manager Joe Maddon confirmed that Andrew Heaney is still expected to take the mound when the Halos open their 2020 campaign on July 24th in Oakland. Heaney had originally been named the Opening Day starter in March before camps shut down.
A six-year veteran at 29, this will be the first Opening Day nod for Heaney. The left-hander’s selection for the role is a bit surprising. While he is the longest-tenured member of the team’s pitching staff, Heaney has also made just 79 appearances (77 starts) over his six MLB seasons owing to multiple injuries. Those ailments have also led to inconsistency on the mound, with Heaney owning a lifetime record of 20-26 with a 4.44 ERA, a 4.43 FIP, and an 8.8 K/9 ratio.
He was slated to be the team’s top starter entering the 2019 season, but injuries again got in the way. After experiencing elbow inflammation in camp, the Angels were forced to shut Heaney down and he wouldn’t make his season debut until May 26th. His work would be uneven at best, with a 4.91 ERA and a 4.63 FIP over 95.1 innings of work. A lot of that damage was done by the home run ball, with Heaney averaging 1.9 HR/9 last season.
With that said, it isn’t all doom and gloom when it comes to Heaney. When healthy, he’s shown glimpses of the former top prospect rankings he accrued on his way through the system. Heaney is just a season removed from making a career-high 30 starts in 2018, going 9-10 with a 4.15 ERA, a 3.99 FIP, and a 9.0 K/9.
Heaney’s track record with health and productivity inconsistencies led us to speculate that 2020 may be a make or break season for the lefty. With finances a growing concern across baseball, and the Angels being locked into some heavy guaranteed deals, the team may look to non-tender some underperforming veterans after the season and Heaney profiles as a potential candidate there.
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Regardless of the past, Heaney will look to get off on the right foot in 2020 and help lead the Angels to a surprise finish in a shortened season. His health and productivity will be counted on for an Angels staff that will make or break their postseason chances.