Although the Kansas City Royals weren't able to secure the win on Saturday night against the Detroit Tigers, starting pitcher Jon Heasley was a bright spot.
After giving up six hits and four runs in his MLB debut just over a week ago, the Royals' 24-year-old righty pitched into the sixth inning at Comerica Park in start No. 2. He allowed just three hits all night and walked two, adding a trio of strikeouts into the equation as well. Heasley did a good job mixing up his pitches, and Royals manager Mike Matheny was proud of that performance when he spoke to the media postgame.
"I thought he was terrific and had everything," Matheny said of Heasley on Saturday. "Located everything well right out of the gate and made tough pitches. Made a number of 3-2 changeups behind in the count, breaking balls... he had everything going today. It was a great outing for him."
Heasley was able to put his full arsenal of pitches on display in Detroit. Not only did he do a solid job of simply throwing his offspeed options, but he hit the strike zone several times with his changeup-curveball combo and left plenty of them down in the zone or working in on hitters. Compared to the first start of his young major league career, Heasley said he felt better about things this time around.
"I felt pretty good about it overall," Heasley said of his start. "Definitely more comfortable today, nerves weren't quite as crazy. Definitely felt a little more settled in. Had a good plan going in, felt like I attacked the zone and got some outs on quality pitches. Got some big help defensively from Nicky (Lopez), a couple of really good plays out there. Overall, felt really good about the outing and was happy to get back out here again."
Heasley was also asked about which pitch he feels is his secondary one. Many have said his changeup is the second-best in his mix, but others have praised the curveball. Matheny said it depends on the night, and Heasley was quickly able to allude to which offering he thinks is his bread-and-butter when not hurling fastballs.
"Personally, I would say that the curveball is probably my second pitch behind the fastball," Heasley said. Kind of forever, it's been my putaway pitch. But the changeup has come along nicely this year and obviously, if I can have it working like it was tonight, then it puts me in a good spot to be successful.
When Heasley is changing things up (no pun intended) routinely and keeping opposing hitters honest, he's a difficult pitcher to have success against. He was in control during his second career start, giving the Royals a quality outing that they'll be happy with every single time out on the field. Unfortunately, the bats couldn't come alive and the bullpen struggled down the stretch. As the team closes out this season, though, knowing it might have something in Heasley is a definite plus.