Mike Redmond believes that Andrew Heaney is starting to get more comfortable, but the inability for Miami's top pitching prospect to keep the ball down in the strike zone may lead to future discomfort.
After yielding a three run home run to Nate Freiman in the sixth inning of Sunday afternoon's 4-3 loss to Oakland, Heaney has surrendered three home runs in 17 major league innings pitched, matching the three he gave up in over 70 minor league innings.
Heaney has posted a 5.29 ERA and 4.69 FIP since being promoted despite posting a 2.08 FIP with Triple-A New Orleans. Heaney had proven that he could get left-handed hitters out, but through three starts, lefties are batting .267 compared to right-handed bats which are batting a mere .167.
With the success of his changeup, Heaney hadn't been known to give up home runs on a consistent basis. All three of the home runs he has allowed have been hit by right-handed batters, and two out singles or walks have put Heaney in particularly challenging situations.
"He looked more comfortable to me today," Redmond said. "He was pounding the strike zone with the fastball. You could tell by the swings. I think that will continue as he gets more and more starts. He's going to be fine. He's got good stuff. I like his poise out there. I like his demeanor, the way he competes."
Heaney has been known to throw strikes with regularity, and one pitch in each of his last two outings has done damage to his line. While he could do a better job of getting ahead of hitters as he reaches the fifth and sixth innings, Heaney has also taken the mound while the Marlins have had difficulty adding late and the bullpen has allowed extra inning rallies.
Since he doesn't always light up the radar gun with his fastball, it is likely a bit easier to recognize and adjust to it. Heaney's fastball is at its best when it clocks in around 94/95 mph.
Miami is having difficulty winning games, and Heaney's 0-3 record is indicative of that. Limiting the home runs may be the key for Heaney's future success, although offensive support would benefit the 23-year old lefty.
"This is a learning experience," Heaney said. "I'd like to say I'm having good outings to learn from. I feel like every time out, I've gotten better. Hopefully, I can have one where I'm taking a lot more positives and celebrating a win."