MARCH 17: While Heaney will resume his throwing program Sunday, he’ll start the season on the injured list, Fletcher tweets.
MARCH 13: Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney has been shut down due to ongoing discomfort stemming from inflammation in his left elbow, the team revealed to reporters (Twitter link via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). While that’s clearly unwelcome news for a Halos staff that has been ravaged by injuries over the past several seasons, the good news is that an MRI has already been performed, with no structural damage being found.
It’s not clear yet just when the Angels believe Heaney will be ready to throw. Fletcher notes that Heaney dealt with a similar issue last spring but wound up missing only a week and a half of the regular season. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets that Heaney is optimistic he’ll be able to resume throwing in the near future. However, he’s only totaled 1 2/3 innings this spring, which seemingly makes it unlikely that he’ll be ready to start the season in two weeks.
Heaney, 27, pitched to a 4.15 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.35 HR/9 and a 41.2 percent ground-ball rate in 180 innings of work (30 starts). That marked only the second time in his career that Heaney was able to make more than five starts at the MLB level or pitch more than 100 innings. To this point, the clearly talented lefty — he’s a former first-round pick and consensus top prospect — has been snakebit by injury issues, most notably including Tommy John surgery.
With Heaney now looking decidedly unlikely to be ready to take the mound early in the season, the Angels project to rely upon Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill and Tyler Skaggs as the top three arms in the rotation. Jaime Barria and Felix Pena are strong candidates for those final two rotation spots, although the Angels do have alternatives including offseason pickup Dillon Peters, who has been sharp thus far in Spring Training (one run in 10 innings). Nick Tropeano isn’t expected to be ready for the opener either, while J.C. Ramirez and Shohei Ohtani aren’t options following 2018 Tommy John surgery.