The product of a trade with the Atlanta Braves in 2015, Luis Avilan just completed his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, but it’s safe to say it likely wasn’t what he was hoping for.
Avilan finished with a 10.13 ERA and 2.50 WHIP in 10 appearances this spring. He lost the competition for the final spot in the bullpen, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remarked that the left-hander lacked confidence to pitch well.
Avilan began the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, though joined the Dodgers on April 21 when Louis Coleman was placed on the bereavement list.
To that point Avilan had thrown six scoreless innings over five appearances with Oklahoma City. He allowed a combined three runs and retired just two of seven batters faced over three games during a brief sting in the Majors.
While bouncing to and from Oklahoma City, Avilan went on to pitch in 33 Triple-A games this season, posting a rather unimpressive 4.24 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Over 27 games with the Dodgers, Avilan pitched to a 3.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
He ranked behind only Kenley Jansen among Dodgers relievers with a 2.13 FIP. After struggling through multiple stints in the Majors, Avilan finished the regular season with nine scoreless innings over 11 appearances.
The strong close to the regular season earned Avilan a spot on the Dodgers roster for the National League Division Series and NL Championship Series.
He rode that success and momentum to five scoreless appearances (3.2 innings) in the postseason — two against the Chicago Cubs and three against the Washington Nationals.
Avilan remains under team control through 2018 with two more years of arbitration remaining. Last year, the team reached an agreement on a one-year deal in January that allowed both sides to avoid arbitration.
The interesting thing to consider this year, however, is that Avilan is out of options. So should the Dodgers re-sign him, Avilan would need to remain in the Majors all season, be traded or placed on waivers.
So, will Avilan be a contributor next season? The gut-answer is yes.
First, J.P. Howell almost assuredly will not return, so that in theory frees up an opening for a left-hander in the bullpen; along with Grant Dayton — although this could change depending on what unfolds with Alex Wood.