After two years of mediocre relief pitching, Luis Avilan reestablished himself as a solid bullpen arm for the Dodgers with a strong second half. In 16.2 innings after the break, Avilan put up a 2.16 ERA and .179 slugging percentage against while striking out 24 batters. It took some patience to get there, as he was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City eight different times during the 2016 season, but he eventually showed enough to make the Dodgers' playoff roster. His current arsenal revolves around a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a strong changeup, along with an occasional curveball. His stuff has developed enough that he has more than doubled his strikeout rate in the last three years, going from 13 percent in 2014 to 34.2 percent in 2016. Avilan figures to enter 2017 in a similar role to late last season, but he could eventually work his way into the setup mix.
Avilan pitched a clean inning in Monday's spring loss to the White Sox. The southpaw was shelled for four runs in his last outing, so Monday's uneventful inning was a step back in the right direction. The 27-year-old is likely competing for a bullpen job with fellow left-hander, Adam Liberatore. The latter has a better ERA this spring (4.05 to 6.75), but the former has the edge in WHIP (1.35 to 1.65). Both relievers would act as early-inning options out of the bullpen if they make the cut.
Avilan and the Dodgers avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.5 million deal, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Avilan put up his best season in 2016 since his phenomenal 2013, yielding a 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings with the Dodgers despite moving between Los Angeles and Triple-A Oklahoma City a countless number of times. That performance will give him a somewhat modest $110,000 raise in his second round of arbitration.
Avilan was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday. Avilan has struggled recently with Oklahoma City. Over his last 10 games, he's allowed six runs across 10.1 innings, bringing his ERA up to 4.24 for the year. He hasn't been able to keep runners off base either, as his 13 percent walk rate has contributed to a poor 1.50 WHIP.
The Dodgers optioned Avilan to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. Avilan was called up as the 26th man for Wednesday's doubleheader, and was then sent back to Oklahoma City as expected. Avilan has appeared in 17 big league games this season and 258 in his career, so it seems he has a good chance to rejoin the Dodgers before the season ends.
Avilan was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. His latest stint with the big club lasted all of two days but Avilan figures to return late next week after rosters expand, unless he's DFA'd before then. Avilan gave up three runs while recording one out in his last appearance for Los Angeles on Aug. 7, with his ERA ballooning from 3.48 to 5.91.