It has been about a month and a half since Andrew Heaney made his last major league start for the Miami Marlins, a rough outing against the St. Louis Cardinals, where he allowed 5 runs in only 3.2 innings. Since then the fifth starter role has been a revolving door of mediocrity. On any given night manager Mike Redmond has no choice but to run out Brand Hand, or Brad Penny. Neither of which has the talent or long-term potential of Heaney.
Since Heaney's departure he has been performing well in Triple-A New Orleans. Aside from a few blips where he did not pitch deep into games Heaney has been exactly what you would expect him to be. His last two starts have been fantastic. August 12th against Tacoma Heaney went 7 innings allowing only 1 run while striking out 7. August 17th against Reno he was even more impressive, going 8 innings, giving up a single hit, no runs, and striking out 9.
Overall this season in New Orleans Heaney has thrown 66.2 innings with a 3.51 ERA with an impressive strikeout rate of 28.4% and a FIP of 3.53. For the most part this has been a pretty successful season for Heaney. The ERA is a bit higher than he would like, but the PCL is a hitter friendly league and the high strikeout rate is encouraging.
Heaney has proven he can get hitters at the Triple-A level out. The last step in his development will be proving that he can get major league hitters out consistently. This brings us back to the ongoing dilemma of determining who should be the fifth starter.
So far in 2014 Brad Hand has been unimpressive in that role. In 78.2 innings he has a 4.58 ERA and a 4.48 FIP. Not awful, but the Marlins can do better. However, better does mean sticking Brad Penny in that role. Penny's ERA during his 10 innings of work is only 4.50, but the eye test suggests he has very little left in the tank. Brad Penny has not pitched well since 2010, so hoping he rediscovers some magic at age 36 seems ill advised.
Why continue to start the Brads when you have a prospect in Triple-A that needs his next challenge? Heaney struggled during his first stint in the majors, posting a 6.53 ERA in four starts, but it is time to give him another chance. They Marlins cannot seriously believe that Brad Hand or Brad Penny give the team a better chance to win than Andrew Heaney. Letting Heaney finish the year with the team will give him a foundation heading into 2015. He will have a better idea of what he needs to work on, and how he can be successful going forward. Leaving him in Triple-A accomplishes none of that.
Whether or not the Marlins wise up and give Heaney a few more starts this season, Heaney will be an important part of the rotation next season and for many years to come. What do you think? Should Heaney join the major league rotation or continue to get more seasoning in the minors?