Luis Avilan

Luis Avilan is one of the few holdovers from last year’s bullpen, but that means very little other than he’s one of the few guys I’ll recognize in Spring Training pictures. That being said, since his name is not Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, or Julio Teheran (and maybe Alex Wood or Craig Kimbrel), he may not even be a Brave tomorrow. Who knows.

The good: Pretty much the entire 2013 season. Following up a very successful rookie campaign in 2012, Avilan was fantastic for the entire season. He went 5-0 and posted a 1.52 ERA in 65 innings over 75 games. He was reliable, but appearing in nearly 1/2 of your team’s games is a pretty heavy workload. That may have led to…

The bad: Pretty much the entire 2014 season. It was not kind to Avilan. After two great seasons, he struggled through the first half of last season, and his ERA sat at 4.85 after 47 games when he was demoted to AAA on July 19. He was recalled on August 14 but things did not really improve for him. He finished the season with a 4-1 record and 4.57 ERA, giving up 22 runs (all earned) and a .287 opposing batting average in 43.1 innings. His 47 hits and 21 walks led to a rather worrisome 1.57 WHIP. He allowed 2 home runs and recorded 25 strikeouts.

If Avilan can get enough innings in (the Braves have invited 33 pitchers to camp, and there are only but so many innings available) and he has a good Spring Training, and if he is still with the team at the end of it, I’d say there’s a decent chance he makes the Opening Day roster as the second lefty behind James Russell. The Braves did, however, add Josh Outman to the bullpen mix over the winter, so if he has a better spring than Avilan, Avilan may find himself beginning the season up the road in Gwinnett.

If Avilan can put up numbers along the lines of his rookie season, closer to his 2013 than his 2014, he may find himself shipped to a contending team at the trading deadline, since effective lefties don’t exactly grow on trees. While I’m sure the Braves would have traded him this winter or packaged him with someone if the right deal had come along, hanging on to him may net them a greater gain if Roger McDowell can work his magic and help Avilan bounce back. If not, there will still probably be a contending team willing to take a flyer on him simply because he throws with the correct hand.

So what is his 2015 outlook? Numbers-wise, I don’t know. I would not be the least bit surprised if they were better than his 2014 results, nor would I be surprised if they weren’t. Relievers can really be year-to-year. I will be surprised, though, if he is still with the Braves at the end of the season. He’s cheap, left handed, and playing on a team that is not really expected to contend until he gets a little less cheap. If I were him with those factors in place, I probably wouldn’t be buying any real estate in Atlanta any time soon.

41 thoughts on “Luis Avilan”

  1. I’ll be honest, I’m rooting against Avilan out of camp, simply because I want the 2015 pen to be Kimbrel and a rotation of guys who have never worn the tomahawk before. I’d like for the announcers to refer to them as “left handed reliever, #43” and “right handed guy, #85.”

  2. Avilan will be kept because of izquierda navidad. If he’s bad again, we can just re-nickname him El Sinestro.

  3. Maybe we can come up with our own Braves scenario to go along with these in the argicle Here’s mine–what the Braves need to happen to grab a wild card in 2015:

    1) Julio Teheran and Alex Wood do not regress and do not get injured
    2) Simmons becomes an average offensive shortstop
    3) Chris Johnson’s 2015 isn’t negative WAR and/or the 3B platoon is worth 1.5 WAR or so
    4) Mike Minor and Shelby Miller are more like their 2013 selves than their 2014 selves
    5) we find an average 5th starter
    6) Markakis isn’t worse offensively than he was in 2015
    7) BJ Upton finds a 1 oWAR season in his bat
    8) our LF platoon combines for 2 WAR
    9) Freddie Freeman is in the MVP conversation (top 10)
    10) 2B isn’t a black hole, and preferably, Peraza comes in to provide avg offense and above avg defense for the majority of the season
    11) The bullpen behind Kimbrel is league-average
    12) Bethancourt is at least replacement level with the bat

    Not all of these things need to happen, but most of them do for us to win the 85 or so games necessary for an outside shot at the 2nd WC. It’s a lot of contingencies, and the more contingencies, the less probable the outcome. I’d give us a 10% chance at a WC spot based on the strength of our pitching staff. It’s also entirely possible we could trade a couple C prospects for an average LF platoon bat if we’re .500 at the mid-point. JS used to love that move with the 90’s barves.

    I might also add that we don’t need to score more runs than we allow to take a WC spot.

  4. I keep hearing that our bullpen is suspect after Kimbrel. Why are people saying that? Our bullpens have always been pieced together by injured veterans, prospects, and retreads. A bullpen of Grilli, Vizcaino, Outman, Russell, Johnson, Avilan, and whatever starting pitcher that doesn’t make the 5th spot is a pretty dang good bullpen. Why did we go into the 2014 season optimistic about Hale, Varvaro, Avilan, Walden, Carpenter, and Ian Thomas and we aren’t excited about this bullpen? I don’t get it.

  5. Olivera is a 29-year old Cuban 2B/3B. His tools are impressive and he has reportedly looked good in private workouts for teams, but on the downside he’s had issues staying healthy and the Cuban leagues aren’t as strong as they once were. The best-case scenario is that he’s a Cespedes or Puig type; a major league ready contributor who only costs money (rather than draft picks or prospects). The Braves have enough interest in him to hold a private workout for him, and god knows they’ve got money to burn this offseason, but who knows how serious they are about signing him.

    One thing working in their favor is that Olivera has a much clearer route to immediate playing time on the Braves than he would for some of the other big spenders, as neither 2B nor 3B is all that secure.

  6. He seems like a pretty good candidate to sign with the Braves. People are speculating we made a strong offer to him, and he can play almost immediately at either position he’s best at, Atlanta is a good market to play in (you get exposure but less pressure), and he’d be inclined to think that he could make Atlanta a contender, so it’s not like he knows he’s going to a loser.

  7. @13 – Walden and Carpenter were both really good the previous season. After Kimbrell there’s literally no one out there coming off success. Vizcaino at least has youth on his side but he’s never actually been even an average major league pitcher. There are not many similarities between the ’14 and ’15 ‘pens. Assuming that we’re ever actually close in the 7th and 8th innings, well be throwing a guy out there who’s trying to recapture some distant past success in live game action.

  8. I have faith that McDowell and Gonzalez will patch together a bullpen. Wren excelled at finding bullpen arms, we’ll see if the new team has the same ability.

  9. @18 they’ve already picked up quite a few castoffs that have promising stats, but need to work out a few kinks: Josh Outman, the other David Carpenter, Jose Veras, Michael Kohn, Donnie Veal. With the vet signings to boot, the Braves bullpen should be just fine.

  10. Minor just needs to bounce back so we can trade him, and Kimbrel needs to stay healthy too so we can move him at the deadline. Whether or not this team can hit as well as last year’s team, how good the bullpen is aside from Kimbrel…who cares?

  11. Being able to cobble together random dudes to form an effective bullpen is exactly why we need to trade Kimbrel.

  12. The megabucks Arizona TV coverage is going to be great. That organization already puts a North Korea-esque stamp on their analysis of the world; now imagine that backed by even more money!


  13. @13, “Why did we go into the 2014 season optimistic about Hale, Varvaro, Avilan, Walden, Carpenter, and Ian Thomas and we aren’t excited about this bullpen? I don’t get it.”

    Because Carpenter, Walden, and Avilan had just come off seasons in which they dominated (mostly). Vavaro had been solid for a couple of years and Hale had been impressive at spot starting. Compare that to this group of guys–all of them used to be good (or have potential to be) but none of them were very good in 2014.

    I’m not actually worried about our bullpen. I think it will be average behind Kimbrel because I put a lot of faith in our coaches/execs. I put avg bullpen in the list of things we need to happen because there is a significant possibility it could be a dumpster fire. There are just too many contingencies.

  14. Hale had two starts in 2013. Let’s not go crazy.

    We very clearly are able to build bullpens from nothing. That has been an organization strength since the early 90’s. If we were able to build offenses from nothing, we’d be the Tampa Bay Rays with $30M more in payroll. When evaluating the strengths of the team, I’m very confident the bullpen will be solid (maybe not O’Ventbrel solid, but nonetheless).

    So as we predict the upcoming season, I wouldn’t list the bullpen as a question mark. The bottom line to this season is whether or not Platoon-O-Rama is going to work. If it does, we might sneak into a Wild Card spot. If it doesn’t, we’ll be the Miami Marlins. And while “sneaking into a Wild Card spot” isn’t an ambitious top-range goal for a baseball season, remember we added 10 of our top 20 prospects during our fire sale. You could also argue that keeping Heyward, Gattis, and JUpton would lead to a team whose top-range goal would be to sneak into a Wild Card spot. As far as I’m concerned, this offseason has been a success.

  15. Correction: Frank Wren could build bullpens from scrap. He’s not with us anymore. John Schuerholz can build unholy things composed of Bob Wickman and Chris Reitsma.

  16. Correction: The 2002 bullpen had Smoltz/Hammond/Remlinger/Holmes/Gryboski as their bullpen. I contend that’s a similar bullpen to what we’re doing this year (dominant closer, failed starters, people coming back from injury; remember, Darren Holmes hadn’t pitched in 3 seasons and Hammond in 4). The majority of the 90’s, 2000-2002, 2004, and 2006 all had really strong bullpens. I think you’re blowing up the Chris Reitsma and Jorge Sosa eras, and completely misremembering Bob Wickman (he had a 1.04 ERA in one of his two seasons with us; he was just a douche). Cleveland also had very strong bullpens under Hart.

  17. The 2002 bullpen was probably the best bullpen in franchise history. I wouldn’t use that as a point of comparison.

    We’ve usually had very strong bullpens, but we are going into this season with no one beyond Kimbrel who we can trust. The 2014 bullpen was shakier than the 2013 bullpen, and while that wasn’t one of the 10 biggest problems with the team, it is not what I would describe as an area of strength for the team.

  18. @32 Confession—I checked the roster three times before I wrote this, just to make sure we hadn’t.

  19. @30 That’s precisely my point, Alex. The 2014 bullpen had many 2013 returnees who had a lot of success, and that didn’t guarantee a strong bullpen. 2002’s bullpen was a ragtag group that produced the best bullpen in franchise history. Relievers are so unreliable from year to year that I’d almost rather go into every season with a difficult collection of jerseys than bring the same bullpen back.

  20. Three new rules for pace of play in 2015:

    1. Managers must challenge replays from dugout.

    2. Batters must keep one foot in box unless an established exception occurs.

    3. Play to resume promptly once broadcast returns from commercial break.

  21. Who did we have that we “trusted” before the parade of journeymen hangers-on? David Carpenter? The shine had worn off him a little, no? Jordan Walden? Okay, I’ll give you that. But Chasen Shreve was no more projectable or certain than any random dust-bin recovery project.

    The pen was going to be Kimbrel and a lot of question marks regardless.

  22. We’re so desperate to self-flagellate that we’re disparaging John Schuerholz and pining for the talents of Frank Wren?

  23. On a team that will at points in time give Christian Bethancourt, Andrelton Simmons, Chris Johnson, BJ Upton and a pitcher plate appearances in the same game, the relief pitching is the least of my worries. The game may be over once the other team scores 2 runs.

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