The Phillies bullpen has been among the league’s best for the last two months, but one of its biggest areas of weakness was from the left side. Today, the Phillies made a trade that they hope will fix some of those problems.
General manager Matt Klentak dealt for left-handed relief pitcher Luis Avilan in exchange for AA starter Felix Paulino. Here’s a small sample of what he can do... a very small sample. One pitch, in fact.
With Aaron Loup, acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline, currently on the disabled list with a left forearm strain, Avilan immediately becomes the bullpen’s most effective weapon against left-handed hitters. In 58 games (39.2 innings), Avilan has a 3.86 ERA and a 2.70 FIP, with a strikeout rate of 26.7% and a walk rate of 8.1%. But his true value lies in his ability to get lefties our.
This year, left-handers are batting .214 against him with an OPS of .562. Last year he held lefties to a .195 average and a .571 OPS, and in 2016, they hit .200 and had a .519 OPS against Avilan. And if he proves to be effective over the last month of the season, he is under team control for one more season, where he will like see a raise of up to about $4-5 million in arbitration.
The addition of Avilan is sorely needed, as the ‘pen has had trouble getting left-handers out this year. They’ve allowed a .322 wOBA and have a 4.17 ERA against lefties, both of which rank 16th in baseball, and the 68 homers they’ve given up are 7th-most. And in the National League, there are a number of teams left on the Phils’ schedule that have some left-handed mashers that they will need Avilan’s services for.
The Braves have Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. The Nats don’t have Daniel Murphy anymore, but Bryce Harper and Juan Soto are no joke. The Cubs have Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward. The Mets... well it doesn’t matter who the Mets have because they just beat the Phillies’ brains in no matter what. The Rockies have Charlie Blackmon. And this doesn’t even count some of the teams the Phils could see in the playoffs, if they can get there.
Avilan joins Adam Morgan as the other southpaw in the ‘pen. Morgan has been inconsistent this year, with a 4.30 ERA in 37.2 innings, and while he’s only allowed a .241 average against left-handers, he has not been as effective as Avilan.
It’s yet another move made by the Phils with the intention of getting the struggling team, now 4-6 in their last 10 and just 15-15 since the All-Star break, back into first place in the NL East.