Game 121: The Andrew Heaney Game

What a great week of baseball this has been so far. I would rate it a 10 out of 10, and I’d go so far as to say I wish every week this season had been like this. The Yankees dispatched the Sox 5-2 to complete a three-game sweep, and it was glorious. With the win, the Yanks are 69-52 and would host the AL Wild Card game if the season ended today. Beautiful, beautiful stuff. I do have one question for you all, though: what are your plans for the parade this fall?

To the takeaways.

Andrew Heaney’s Yankee Masterpiece. With both Domingo Germán and Corey Kluber waiting in the wings, Andrew Heaney’s time in the Yankee rotation is likely limited. There are no guarantees – injuries are a fickle thing – but that’s definitely the hope. And, even if Heaney doesn’t throw another pitch for the Yankees (he will), he absolutely left his mark on the 2021 team. This was an absolute masterpiece from Heaney, who left all the bad vibes in Iowa.

Rather inexplicably, Heaney threw 7 innings of 2-hit, 1-run ball. He walked 2 and struck out 5 across 108 pitches. He worked north-to-south, which is typical for pitchers these days, using his fastball up in the zone and everything else down:

That is generally a recipe for success, though less so when you throw low-90s, as Heaney does. Nevertheless, it was a recipe that worked on a very good night in the Bronx. He didn’t get many whiffs – just 18% of swings against him camp up empty – but he really did limit the hard contact. Red Sox batters averaged just 82.1 mph on their batted balls in this one. That will do the trick.

Overall, Heaney retired 21 of the 24 batters he faced. It was definitely his best performance as a Yankee, and it’s just enough to make you think maybe, just maybe, he has a roster spot on this team moving forward, even just as a long reliever. Who knows? Certainly wouldn’t be the first time a pitcher left the Angels and got better.

Zack Britton’s Velocity is Back. It’s obviously been quite a tough stretch for Zack Britton. We don’t need to pile on him any more than he’s piled on himself, but he’s a hell of a good pitcher when he’s right. Given his injuries and lack of a Spring Training, it was only fair to assume he’d get stronger with more innings under his belt. We saw glimpses of that tonight, when his velocity was fully back. Look at tonight compared to the year’s average:

That level of velocity is crucial for Britton. It really is – and it had been missing all season. Couple that with location like this:

And you’ll get yourself an easy one, two, three inning like Britton got tonight. (To be fair, some of those sinkers are a bit high. But he looked better than this shows, I think, and that level of velocity helps quite a bit with seeming mistakes.)

One night does not a season make, of course, but that was a promising outing from Britton. One step at a time. If he can return to elite status quickly, the Yankees are only going to get that much better.

What About Aroldis Chapman, Though? The 2021 Yankees giveth, the 2021 Yankees taketh away, right? Zack Britton looked great, so that meant another important reliever had to look horrible. Tonight, of course, I mean Aroldis Chapman. To be fair to the flamethrowing lefty, it was his first game back from the IL. You could tell. Here are two charts that sum up Chapman’s night:

Middling velocity and absolutely zero command? Sounds like Aroldis Chapman, fresh off an IL stint to me. Despite entering with a 5-1 lead, Chapman couldn’t finish the inning. He allowed a homer to Hunter Renfroe, walked Xander Bogaerts, and allowed a single to J.D. Martinez to put the tying run at the plate with two outs. He did not have it.

I’ve been tough on Boone lately, so let me give him due props here: he immediately pulled Chapman, and it was the right decision. Chapman had nothing, had no clue where it was going, and that’s enough. It was a rehab appearance for Chapman but not the Yankees. Boone turned to Lucas Luetge, who escaped the jam in large part because…

Andrew Velazquez has a Hell of a Glove. What a 24 hours for Andrew Veazquez, huh? After a few RBI yesterday, he added two more tonight in a 2-4 performance. He also scored a run. That, though, is not the big contribution this evening. That would come with two outs in the 9th and the tying run up in Kevin Plawecki. This is what happened:

Okay, so wow is that a hell of a play. What an arm. It was also incredibly, incredibly close at first. I think he was out – it looks like the ball beat him ever so slightly – but I admit to relief that he was called out on the field. I don’t think the umpires were reversing that one either way. The review took 2:20, but they upheld the call and the Yankees won the game. I will say it again: that is a hell of a play. It’s a hell of a play in any context, but especially that one. Velazquez is trying to prove he should stick around for his glove and speed, and he might be making that case. (Probably not, though.) Here are his hits for good measure:

Leftovers

  • I was surprised that Luke Voit didn’t play in this one, especially after he was so outspoken last night. Anthony Rizzo made his return to pinstripes in his place, going 1-4 in the process. He made his 1 hit count, though, driving in 2 with it:
  • A really rough day for the top of the order. DJ LeMahieu, Rizzo, Aaron Judge, Joey Gallo, Giancarlo Stanton, and Rougned Odor combined to go 2-19 from the dish with 4 Ks. The saving grace was that they walked 6 times between them. Judge had 3 of those, with Gallo, Stanton, and Odor each logging one as well. The Yankees see the most pitches in baseball and the walks follow. It makes sense.
  • A two-hit day for Gary Sánchez, including a double and two runs. Love to see that. A catcher who can hit and really, really call games well behind the dish. That is a valuable player.
  • That was a fun baseball game overall. The Stadium was popping from TV, and I love that. I specifically loved the “We Want Tampa” chants. That’s right. The Yankees are in playoff position now, so it’s time to set our sights on the Rays. Enough of this Wild Card stuff.

And thus concludes a very satisfying sweep of the Red Sox. The Yankees will now play the Twins for 5 in New York. The first of those games will be tomorrow night at 7:05 when Jameson Taillon (7-4, 3.89 ERA) looks to keep the good times rolling against John Gant (3.49 ERA). Enjoy your night, everyone.

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18 Comments

  1. Joey Galleddardo

    I thought it was the best win of the season, Bobby. Heaney’s seven strong innings didn’t surprise me. It’s hard to keep a good man down. He’s always had good peripherals and that’s why we traded for him. The Sox remind me a lot of our club in the first half. They leave everybody on bases, few runs scored, they get shut down by 5 ERAs and everything goes wrong. That shopping cart thing they do after a HR is dumb, especially when they’re sinking like a stone.

    I said yesterday Velazquez is the SS of our future and that was confirmed last night. Boy that kid can play. When Gleyber returns I wouldn’t even mess around, he can sit on the bench with Luke. Our SS was on the field last night. Velazquez reminds me a lot of Jete. He certainly has the clutch bat Jete had and the gold glove to boot. Gleyber doesn’t make that play to end the game and Leutge woulda blown it. Gleyber’s been Pipp’d for the kid from the Bronx.

    Speaking of Pipp, I had a real problem with what Luke said. He was rattling off his individual stats but it’s supposed to be about the club, not him. And no he doesn’t deserve to play as much as Rizzo. He couldn’t stay healthy so they went out and got Rizzo who gives the lineup balance and a better glove and had another big hit last night. So no he doesn’t deserve to play more than Rizzo. And that should be done in private with Boone and not in the press. He shoulda said he’d do whatever the club needed to help the team and not rattled off his individual stats, which nobody cares about.

    • DZB

      Velazquez is more likely a free agent in a couple of weeks than he is the future SS of the New York Yankees. He still has a negative fWAR this year, and a negative career fWAR, and at 26 years of age has logged a total of 136 MLB plate appearances (good for a 32 OPS+ and a 35 wRC+). He has had some luck and has a relatively high BAbip to help his apparent success. He is a fun story, but not a great player

    • JAKEY B

      Is the “best win of the season” thing a running joke or something? Because I feel like I see that message every time we win.

  2. Lazzeri

    Voit saw on the last play why he won’t/shouldn’t play over Rizzo. That ball is in right field with him at first.

    • Coolerking101

      If Voit is Voit, he’s a better hitter than Rizzo at this point in Rizzo’s career. Should Rizzo be the late inning, defensive replacement? Absolutely. Regardless, there should be room for both of them in the lineup 4+ days a week assuming the Yanks go Stanton/Judge/Gallo in the OF on those days.

      • DZB

        I agree for the most part, and I think all the fans who wanted to see Voit traded at the deadline because he was ‘surplus’ forget that the team would have no 1B to start 2022 without him in the fold. They should be preparing people to be ready for the best possible playoff lineup, assuming everyone is healthy, and that is definitely with the big three mashers in the outfield, with Voit at 1B (and Gardy at C, even with Cole on the mound!). If Urshela and Gleyber can get back on the field and find some success with the bat, that makes for a crazy good one through nine.

  3. Dani

    Getting 2-hit by Heaney over 7 innings, good god.
    Love Velazquez, he (also Gil) are showing something that was missing most of the year: passion.

    btw: what happened to DOTF? Sad to see that we only get 2-3 updates a week now. Would be nice to get a least some short notes if you don’t have the time for the usual coverage.

  4. Wire Fan

    Not trying to hate, but the chances of a Torres/Voit combo making that last play is less than 0.

    After seeing a play like that I’m not sure I can see Torres winning a WS starting at SS.

    And Heaney? After the first inning I thought it was HR derby, but damn if Heaney didn’t shove in a really big spot…good on him.

  5. Evan3457

    Twins for 5?
    It’s only 4.

  6. S

    Was Wade hurt or something? I was surprised Velazquez started over him against a righty, and then surprised again that Boone didn’t PH Voit for Odor vs the lefty leading off the 8th, and then bring in Wade to improve the defense at 3B

    • DZB

      I also assumed that the Voit/Wade combo would be a pinch hit/defensive replacement combo later in the game, especially with Rizzo needing to perhaps come back slowly.

  7. Oshrox

    Switching feeds i caught the Bosox broadcasters making fun of Heaney after he gave up the homer to Bogaerts, something to the effect that Heaney couldnt help but give up homers and even on a weak swing it went into the second deck. Guess they jinxed that notion, hahaha.

  8. dasit

    has there ever been a season like this? first half was as boring as any stretch i can remember, second half is as anxiety producing as any stretch i can remember

    • I hope the parallel is 1978

    • Gustasuff

      The years the Yanks have won it there’s always been an inevitable bit of magic. This season has had moments of magic but also heartbreak. Our offense is a big question mark but our pitching has been great. Can’t get a feel how it will end.

  9. That last out was one of the best infield plays, by both guys, I’ve ever seen in over 65 years of playing and watching baseball, just amazing.

    The kid from the Bronx is making the most of his time with the Yankees, that’s for sure.

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