Guardians @ Dodgers June 19, 2022: Hello Heaney, goodbye Mookie

We will get to today’s game and the return of Andrew Heaney soon, but first Mookie Betts. A bit after yesterday’s game, Dave Roberts announced the following:

Not ideal. Mookie has slashed .077/.100/.154/.254 over his past 9 games, with his homer against the Angels the only extra-base hit, but who really knows how long the cracked rib will keep him out. Given that the injury came from his collision with Cody Bellinger, I guess you could look at him as the example.

Last playing on Sept. 17 last season, Bellinger returned on Sept. 28 as a reserve late in the game and did so again the next day. He alternated starts and games of the bench from there for the final four games of the regular season before starting 10 of 12 games in the playoffs where he hit .354/.436/.471/.907. So let’s hope Betts is ready to go as soon as his 10 days on the IL are done.

As for Zach McKinstry, he’s going to be the first of two coming from Triple-A OKC in the next two days. With MLB’s pitcher limit of 13 set to finally begin on Monday, the 14 on the Dodgers staff means someone else is needed. As of now the other 40-man options include Jacob Amaya, Eddys Leonard, Jorbit Vivas and James Outman with Edwin Rios and Kevin Pillar out for the foreseeable future/the season. Regarding that decision:

Back to McKinstry, he’s slashing .281/.368/.469/.837 for OKC since he returned on June 10. After 3 games at shortstop, McKinstry has also played center field, left field, third base and second base in the past 5 games.

In 4 games in the majors this season, McKinstry is 1-for-5 with a home run against the Mets on June 3.

Image Image
1:10 PM Los Angeles
CF Straw SS T. Turner
SS Rosario 1B Freeman (L)
1B Miller C Smith
RF Gonzalez 3B Muncy (L)
DH Naylor (L) LF Taylor
LF Mercado CF Bellinger (L)
2B Gimenez (L) DH J. Turner
3B Clement RF Alvarez (S)
C Hedges 2B Lux
P Bieber (R) P Heaney (L)

Life without Mookie begins with Trea Turner moved into the leadoff spot in the lineup, his sixth game of the season there.

Eddy Alvarez gets his second game of the season in the outfield, which is also the second game of his major league career in the outfield. The Dodgers did get Alvarez 7 games in left field at OKC throughout May, but that was also the first outfield experience in his professional career.

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Now after all that, back to Heaney and his return from an extended absence due to left shoulder injury.

Making 2 starts in his “return” to the team, Heaney threw 10 1/3 scoreless innings against the Twins and Reds, with his final start on April 17 including 11 strikeouts in 6 IP. In 3 rehab starts for OKC and Tulsa, Heaney struck out 19 in 12 1/3 IP while allowing just 1 run on 6 hits and 1 walks.

With an incredibly small sample to go off of, Heaney’s usage this season was a pretty dramatic shift. With Baseball Savant showing Heaney using a slider 48.1%, 75 pitches, in his two starts, nearly equal to his fastball (48.7%, 76 pitches), he was effectively using just two pitches as his changeup was just 3.2%, with all 5 pitches against right-handed batters. Previously, Heaney had been between 15% and 18% with the changeup the past 4 years. Meanwhile, he last threw a slider in 2016, with a sinker also stopped in 2019.

That’s essentially all to say who knows exactly what Heaney will look like today. On his 16 strikeouts this season, 10 came on the slider.

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On the other side, Shane Bieber enters his 13th start of the season with a 3.01 ERA/2.71 FIP/3.18 xFIP across 71 2/3 IP. Starting only 16 games with 96 2/3 IP last season due to a shoulder strain, Bieber missed quite a bit of time in the follow-up season to his Cy Young in the shortened 2020 year.

Only at a 25.8 K% this season, Bieber is down from what he was at in 2019 (20.2%), 2020 (41.1%) and 2021 (33.1%). While his BB% is also a bit down, with 5.8% his best since 2019, Bieber’s fastball velocity, Whiff% and K% are all on a dip.

Through 410 fastballs thrown this season, Bieber is at 90.7 mph. A year ago it has dipped to 92.8 mph, which was down from the career low of 93.0 mph in 2018. Maybe related, Bieber’s slider is now is most used pitch which is the first time anything has been thrown more than his fastball. At 40.5% usage this season, the slider’s velocity is holding right around where it has been since 2019.

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Eric Stephen lays out the series against the Reds right here.

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With McKinstry and Heaney back and Betts out, the Dodgers did have to make one more move today.

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First pitch is 1:10 P.M. PT on SportsNet LA.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.