Aaron Heilman: 2006 N.L. Eastern Champion Mets Reliever (2003-2008)

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.

Heilman attended the University of Notre Dame majoring in management information as well as philosophy. He became one of the most dominant pitchers in the Fighting Irish's history.

He was drafted twice but did not sign, until he inked a deal with the New York Mets in the 18th round of the 2001 draft. 

In 2001 he pitched just seven games at A ball St. Lucie before getting promoted to AA. He advanced to AA Binghamton & AAA Norfolk. In 2003 he was 6-4 with the Tides getting promoted to the Mets staff.

Then the team hyped him up as the starter of the future and none of this ever worked out. 

Mets Career: In the early part of his career he was a starting pitcher. He made his big-league debut on June 26th, 2003, at Shea Stadium taking a loss to the Florida Marlins. Heilman allowed five runs but just one earned run in six innings. He took another loss before getting his first win, which came on July 21st against the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 2-7 in his first season, with a 6.74 ERA in 65 innings pitched.

2004: The next season he spent fine tuning himself at AAA Norfolk going 7-10 with a 4.12 ERA. He did get a late August call up. In his first game back, the San Diego Padres knocked him out in the 4th inning, allowing four runs & taking a loss. Heilman went 1-3 the rest of the way, posting a 5.57 ERA.

In the off season the Mets acquired Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran & Willie Randolph to manage the team. There was a lot of promise for the Mets future.

2005:  Heilman got the start in the fifth game of the season, but HRs to the Braves Chipper Jones & Brian Jordan led to his first loss. 

Mets One Hitter: He got a surprise start in place of an injured Kris Benson on April 15th, at Shea against the Florida Marlins. It turned out to be one of his finest moments, throwing a one hit shutout while striking out seven. It was the 28th one hitter in Mets history & the first since To Glavine's in May 2004.

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 in May. The Mets decided to convert him to a full-time reliever. He didn’t like the move & complained about publicly. 

Tom Glavine's 300th Win: On August 5th, Heilman came in relief of Pedro Feliciano, who had just allowed the Cubs to get closer as they scored two runs in a 5-3 game. Tom Glavine had started the inning with a 5-1 lead. With two on & two outs, Heilman got Ryan Theriot to fly out, although it was to deep center. Heilman got credit for the hold in the historic game as Tom Glavine won his 300th victory.

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 that year, at 0.68. He earned five saves, striking out 106 batters in 106 innings.

2006 NL Eastern Champion Season: In 2006 he was on a bullpen staff with a lot of good pitchers. When Dauner Sanchez went down getting injured in a taxicab, Heilman became one of the primary set up men for closer Billy Wagner.

In the first two months of the year, he was credited with nine holds, he also blew a save in San Francisco.  

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. 

On June 16th, he entered the game in the 7th inning holding a 3-2 lead over the Orioles. The inning became a debacle, he walked two, threw a wild pitch & gave up two hits including a two run HR to Melvin Mora, taking the loss. 

On June 29th he relieved Tom Glavine clinging to a one run lead over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He blew the save & the lead on sac flies taking another loss.

Although he had 14 holds in the first half, he didn't earn a win until the end of July. The Mets were riding high in first place & the bull pen was doing very well. 

The fans got restless & needed to pick on the weakest link, which was Heilman.  They were getting fed up with his walks (28) & HRs allowed (5).

On the week of August 19th, he earned two wins & two holds. He would only earn losses in two games after the All-Star break as well. On the year he was credited with 26 holds and went 4-5 with a 3.62 ERA. In 87 innings of work, he struck out a lot 73, which was less batters than he had in the past.

2006 Post Season: In the NLDS he pitched in three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers allowing one run in those three innings. 

2006 NLCS: In the NLCS he appeared in the Mets Game #2 loss. He pitched an important shut out 8th inning of Game #6, in which the Mets to get to Game #7.

But Aaron Heilman 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 at Shea Stadium.

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 who was a partial season ticket holder) for the rest of his time in New York. Our section even started the Aaron Heilman Hate Fan Club.

2007: Heilman 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. The Mets blew a post season opportunity on the final day of the season.

2008: New Mets manager Jerry Manuel attempted to make him the teams closer when Billy Wagner went down with injury for the season. It didn't work out, 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 Schoeneweis came in & gave up a two-run single sealing the loss.

On September 10th Heilman 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 were his 15 holds & 80 strike outs in 76 innings.

In December of 2008 the organization heard the fans boos, Heilman was part of a three team, eleven player deal that sent him to the Seattle Mariners.

Post Mets Career: 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 the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners & Texas Rangers but was released by all four teams.

Career Stats: In his nine-year career he was 35-46 with 16 saves, 548 strike outs, 256 walks, 72 HRs & a 4.40 ERA in 630 innings in 477 appearances.

Family: Aaron & his wife Kerri live in Geneva, Illinois.


Popular posts from this blog

Fictional Mets Infielder Chico Escuela ( of SNL) Visits Mets Spring Training (1979)

Remembering Bobby Ojeda's Tragic Boating Accident (1993)

Remembering Vixen Founder / Guitarist; Jan Kuehnemund (1961-2013)

Remembering Mets History (1979) SNL's Chico Escuela Visits Mets Spring Training & Attempts a Career Comeback

Remembering Mets History: (1977) The Felix Millan / Ed Ott Brawl In Pittsburgh