The Dodgers signed Heaney to a one-year deal in Nov. 2021. Heaney went on to feature in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, and he managed to bounce back from his sluggish 2021 campaign with both the Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees. He posted career highs across the board last year, including in ERA+ (136).
Heaney made several changes to his pitching mechanics ahead of the season, and as he revealed during a recent appearance on Sportsradio 96.7 FM’s “The Norm and D Invasion” show, he also heavily relied on a slider pitch for the first time in his career.
“Yeah, when I got over to the Dodgers, they kind of encouraged me to retool kind of my pitches, stick with the 14 that’s always been a big pitch for me,” Heaney said. “But they wanted me to throw a little bit different slider, and it took me a bit throughout spring training and really didn’t find it until the end of spring.”
Heaney’s slider was one of his go-to pitches in the 2022 season. Opposing hitters notched a .170 batting average against his slider, and the veteran starter tallied 47 strikeouts from the pitch.
Heaney added that the Dodgers advised him to simply be “aggressive” on the mound, which helped him tally a career-high in strikeouts per nine innings (13.6).
“They really encouraged me to sort of say, ‘Hey, view yourself as a power pitcher, you’re not a finesse guy, go out there and trust your stuff and go be aggressive and really attack hitters with two pitches and be relentless,'” Heaney said. “So that’s something that it really was, a little bit of mechanical stuff and some different pitches, but also just the mentality change of viewing myself that way as a strikeout pitcher.
“And that really, once I saw it kind of started happening, that really gave me some confidence.”
Heaney returned to the American League West in December, as he came to terms with the Rangers on a two-year deal.
The Rangers will kick off their 2023 regular season schedule with a home contest against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 30.