After bringing left-handed reliever Luis Avilan into the fold on a minor-league deal last week, New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen told the team’s media corps on Wednesday that the 29-year-old Venezuelan southpaw has a “good chance” of making the Opening Day roster, as per a tweet from Matt Ehalt of The Record.
Avilan split the 2018 season between the Chicago White Sox (3.86 earned run average, 2.71 fielding independent pitching rating, 1.361 WHIP, 3.29 strikeouts-to-walks in 58 appearances/39.2 innings) and the Phillies (3.18 ERA, 1.412 WHIP in 12 appearances/5.2 innings) after being traded to Philadelphia on August 22.
Over the course of his seven-year MLB career, he’s been a terror on lefties, holding hitters to a .213/.289/.292 slash line with 142 strikeouts and 49 walks issued in 607 plate appearances. In all fairness, he’s been quite effective against right-handers, as well (.244/.325/.347, 134 strikeouts, 69 walks in 677 plate appearances).
Whether he’ll be used as an added depth piece in the Mets’ bullpen along with fellow southpaw Daniel Zamora, or Van Wagenen and Mets skipper Mickey Callaway have Luis Avilan penciled into the left-handed specialist role is far from being known, even to those involved.
With Avilan and fellow left-handed addition Hector Santiago being thrown into the mix, Zamora — once and still believed to have a spot in the bullpen — now has two major-league experienced southpaws nipping at his heels in what should be an exciting battle in Spring Training.
In any case, having a plethora of capable and effective left-handed relievers to draw from in the event of injury or poor play will be a welcome added wrinkle to this New York Mets ballclub.