Andrew Heaney was scratched from Thursday's scheduled start with Triple A New Orleans, and it won't be the last time his turn is skipped as the Marlins take measures to preserve the lefty's arm for September.
"We decided a few weeks ago we were going to skip a start here and there (with Heaney)," said Marty Scott, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "This is the first of several. We'll probably do this again in July and one more time in August."
There has been growing speculation about when the Marlins will call up their top pitching prospect, who is continuing to dominate in the minors. But Scott said the decision to scratch Heaney from his scheduled start Thursday had nothing to do with a pending call-up.
"Don't read too much into it," he said.
Rather, Scott said the Marlins want to make sure Heaney is still available to pitch for them in September, especially if the team is still in playoff contention.
Like Jose Fernandez last season, Heaney has a prescribed innings limit of 160-170 innings this season, Scott said. He's already totaled 72 2/3 innings between Double A Jacksonville and Triple A New Orleans. The Marlins want to avoid a situation like the one involving Stephen Strasburg in 2012 when the Nationals' pitcher was shut down in early September even though the team was still in contention and reached the postseason.
Scott said Heaney has been informed of the Marlins' plans and is on board with the altered pitching schedule.
"This way, we don't have to worry about shutting him down in September," Scott said. "If we don't let him skip a couple of starts and rest up and guard these innings, we'd have to shut him down in September, and that's something we don't want to do. We don't want to have to shut him down in the middle of a pennant race."
Heaney's next scheduled start for the Zephyrs is June 19. His last previous start was June 7.
Heaney told the New Orleans Advocate in this article that he feels like he is ready to pitch in the majors, but would prefer to receive his promotion under the right conditions.
"I feel like I am (ready)," Heaney said in Thursday's article, "but I don't want to be ready to fill a spot. I want to be ready to compete and help the team win. They're in first place. I don't want them to bring me up as an experiment."