Aaron Michael Heilman was born November 11, 1978 in Logansport, Indiana. The tall six foot five right hander was a star pitcher at his Logansport high school. He was the team MVP leading the school to two regional titles.
He attended the University of Notre Dame majoring in management information as well as philosophy. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 18th round of the 2001 draft. He pitched just seven games at A ball St. Lucie in 2001 getting to AA & AAA the next year. In 2003 he was 6-4 getting promoted to the Mets staff a bit too soon.
Then the team hyped him up as the starter of the future and none of this ever worked out.
He made his big league debut on June 26th at Shea Stadium taking a 6-1 loss to the Florida Marlins although he only allowed one earned run. He took another loss before getting his first win on July 21st against the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 2-7 in his first season, with a 6.74 ERA in 65 innings pitched.
The next season he spent fine tuning himself at AAA Norfolk going 7-10 with a 4.12 ERA, before getting a late August call up. In his first game the San Diego Padres knocked him out in the 4th inning as he took a loss allowing four runs. He went 1-3 the rest of the way, posting a 5.57 ERA.
In 2005 he pitched the fifth game of the season getting beat by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. He got a surprise start in place of a scratched Kris Benson on April 15th against the Florida Marlins, pitching the game of his life throwing a one hit shutout while striking out seven. There was hope he may have finally come into his own, but it was short lived. He went 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA, with two no decisions as a starter before getting sent to the bullpen as a reliever in May.
He didn’t like the move & complained about it at first. But then things worked out for a while, he posted a 2.14 ERA in relief, posting the best ERA in the NL after the All Star break at 0.68. He earned five saves, striking out 106 batters in 106 innings.
In 2006 he was on a bullpen staff with a lot of good pitchers. In the first two months of the year he was credited with nine holds and two blown saves. In June he was credited with five more holds, but blew three saves & took a loss. The fans got restless & they were getting fed up with his walks (28) & HRs allowed (5).
On May 29th he blew a two run lead at Shea against Arizona giving up a three run HR to Chad Tracy. He was bailed out on David Wrights walk off base hit in the 9th. In June he blew two saves in interleague play, one against the Baltimore Orioles & the other against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. On the year he was credited with 26 holds and went 4-5 with a 3.62 ERA. In 87 innings he struck out a lot less batters than he had in the past (73).
Post Season: In the NLDS he pitched in three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers allowing one run in three innings. In the NLCS he will forever be remembered for One fatal pitch, The biggest HR he ever allowed. It came against the St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the top of the 9th inning of Game #7.
It was what turned out to be the game winning run & Series clincher. Molina had hit just six HRs & batted .216 all season in 417 at bats. Overall in that post season Heilman allowed three runs in seven innings pitched.
His fate was sealed as he heard boos, especially from me for the rest of his time in New York.
In 2007 he went 7-7 with a 3.03 ERA, allowing 8 HRs with 20 walks in 86 innings (63 strike outs).On June 6th he blew a Mets 2-0 lead against the Phillies at Shea Stadium allowing a three run HR to Jimmy Rollins, as he took the loss.
On August 16th he allowed three runs & six hits in two innings of relief at Pittsburgh taking his 5th loss of the year. He pitched a bit better only blowing one more save the rest of the way.
In 2008 manager Jerry Manuel attempted to make him the teams closer when Billy Wagner went down for the season. Heilman was terrible he blew five saves, went 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA on the year while allowing a career high 10 HRs. On May 30th he gave up five runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 8th inning blowing the lead & losing the game. On August 11th he blew a 9th inning save, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing two hits & a walk before exiting to a tie game. Scott Schoenweiss came in & gave up a two run single sealing the loss.
On September 10th he allowed a 6th inning two run HR to Carlos Guzman tying the game and giving him his last blown save as a Mets pitcher. The only bright spots on his season was his 15 holds & 80 strike outs in 76 innings.
In December of 2008 the organization heard the fans boos, he was part of a three team, eleven player deal that sent him to the Seattle Mariners.
He was soon shipped to the Chicago Cubs where he went 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 2009. In 2010 he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks going 5-8 while blowing eight save or win opportunities. On a positive note he did get credit for 12 holds.
In 2011 he was 4-1 but had an ERA of 6.88 and got released in mid July, as the Diamondbacks went to the post season without him. He signed with Philadelphia got released & signed in Pittsburgh but didn’t get to their big league staff.
In his nine year career he is 35-46 with 16 saves, 548 strike outs, 256 walks, 72 HRs a 4.40 ERA in 630 innings in 477 appearances.