The Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation will get a boost Sunday afternoon with the return of left-hander Andrew Heaney from the injured list.
Heaney (1-0, 0.00 ERA) joined the Dodgers this past offseason and made just two starts before going on the IL with left-shoulder inflammation. After two months away, he rejoins a starting staff that got Clayton Kershaw back from the IL last week but lost Walker Buehler to a forearm strain.
There was a positive to Heaney’s time away. Tyler Anderson took over his starting spot and has gone 8-0 with a 2.82 ERA this season, providing rotation stability along with Tony Gonsolin (8-0, 1.42 ERA). The Dodgers have an MLB-best 2.58 ERA from their starters.
Heaney, an Oklahoma City resident, was able to charge up for his return by spending much of his recent rehab assignment at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers spent all spring rebuilding Heaney’s slider that led to just one unearned run in 10 1/3 innings with 16 strikeouts. He now can unleash it again against the Guardians.
“Throwing fastballs is what I do well and what I’m most comfortable with,” Heaney said. “The slider’s a different grip, different thought process. Early on in the first rehab start, it wasn’t quite how I wanted it to be. The next one was a little better. … “Just trying to continue that momentum, that feel, just try to get back to where I was at the beginning of the season.”
Heaney does not have a decision in three appearances (two starts) against the Cleveland franchise, posting a 5.25 ERA in 12 innings.
The Guardians will counter with right-hander Shane Bieber (3-3, 3.01), a native of nearby Laguna Hills, Calif., who will make his Dodger Stadium debut and his first career start against the Dodgers.
After Cleveland’s five-game winning streak ended with a 7-1 defeat to the Dodgers on Saturday, Bieber will be tasked to put a charge back into a nine-game, three-city road trip. The Guardians are 4-1 on the trip, with a visit to Minnesota next.
Los Angeles was held to two runs or less in five of its previous six games before Saturday, but the Dodgers broke out with 11 hits to even the series.
Bieber will look to put the Dodgers back into their offensive tailspin while aiming for Cleveland’s sixth consecutive series win.
Bieber is coming off a start at Colorado on Tuesday when he gave up three runs on a season-high nine hits over 6 2/3 innings. He also gave up his first home run in five outings.
Cleveland could be without star Jose Ramirez, who was not in the starting lineup Saturday because of lingering right-thumb soreness and could be out again Sunday.
“When he’s not in there, our lineup, obviously, doesn’t look as good,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said of his infielder, who has a .397 on-base percentage with an American League-best 62 RBIs. “Then you think, ‘Well, if we play him too much and he (gets worse) …’
“So, we’re going to stay away from him (Saturday), see how he’s doing (Sunday), and then we have Monday off. So, we’ll see.”
The Dodgers are going to be without Mookie Betts, who was put on the injured list Saturday after cracking his right rib during an outfield collision with Cody Bellinger on Wednesday.
Betts, 29, is batting .273 with 17 homers, 40 RBIs and 53 runs scored in 60 games.
The five-time All-Star and 2018 American League MVP is a career .295 hitter with 195 home runs and 607 RBIs in 1,031 games with the Boston Red Sox (2014-19) and Dodgers.
–Field Level Media