Coming off a season in which he failed to make the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training, left-handed relief pitcher Luis Avilan enjoyed a successful 2017 campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The season was his second full year with the club, and third overall.
Avilan made this season’s Opening Day roster and was among the relief pitchers who shined early. However, in May he was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to left triceps soreness.
Avilan pitched in a pair of rehab games with Triple-A Oklahoma City before re-joining the Dodgers two weeks after his DL stint began. The 28-year-old remained with the club for the duration of the season.
He finished the year 2-3 with a 2.93 ERA, 2.96 FIP and 1.39 WHIP. Avilan’s 61 relief appearances more than doubled his total from last season (27), and his 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings were the second-best mark of his career.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts grew confident in deploying his left-handed relief pitcher against all batters. It was a change from how Avilan had previously been utilized — primarily against left-handed batters.
But while Avilan fared well throughout the year, a sore left shoulder that cropped up during the final month of the regular season rendered him unavailable for the postseason. There was hope Avilan would return for the National League Championship Series or World Series.
Avilan is among the eight players whom the Dodgers recently tendered a contract to. He avoided arbitration with the club last winter by agreeing to a one-year deal.
Avilan was strong out of the gate, holding opponents to a .233/.324/.333 batting line while recording eight strikeouts in 8.1 innings pitched across 13 games in April.
Avilan figures to play a key role for the Dodgers next season, as their depth of southpaw relievers has suddenly dwindled.
Adam Liberatore is coming off elbow surgery; and Grant Dayton, recovering from Tommy John, was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves. While he once fell behind Dayton and Liberatore on the totem pole, Avilan has suddenly vaulted to the top.