The O-swing rate on Heaney’s changeup fell 10 points in 2019 to 34.1%, but the continuing trend in dropping Z-contact meant it hit a 15% SwStr for the first time on a sample larger than 100 thrown. His issue was that its HR/FB rate jumped to 26.1% as he gave up 2.2 HR/9 on the pitch. It may have seen too much action too close to the middle of the zone—its zone rate hit a career high at 46.9%, and its base hit plot was nearly all middle-in to lefties.
Heaney’s fastball averaged 92.7 mph, a career best, and was largely thrown at the top of the zone. It paired a 62.6% zone rate with just a 78.6% Z-contact rate en route to a career-best 11.5 SwStr%. However, batters chased the pitch just 22.1% of the time, yielding a 12.5% walk rate, and it did give up 11 home runs. Its 117 WRC+ was a career best, as was its 7.4 pVAL.
Heaney’s main pitch is a 92 mph sinker that he throws about 58% of the time. The issue is it doesn’t generate much in the way of ground-ball contact like it’s intended, and when coupled with an 82.5% contact rate against it in 2018, the result is a .286 batting average against and .476 slugging percentage against. It was worth a -1.7 pVal in 2018.
Heaney’s curveball was used as his main strikeout pitch with an impressive 41.2% strikeout rate. The 19.2% swinging-strike rate and 45.6% ground-ball rate both contributed to a dominant .187 batting average against. All told it was worth a 1.9 pVal in 2018.
Although Heaney’s changeup was the least-used pitch in his repertoire, it actually was his best in terms of pVal in 2018 with an 8.9 mark. It combined an ability to both miss bats and generate ground-ball contact as evidenced by a 13.8% swinging-strike rate and 51.5% ground-ball rate. The result was just a .232 batting average against.