Yankees reportedly sign left-handed pitcher Luis Avilan to a minor-league deal


According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees have reportedly agreed to a minor-league deal with a left-handed reliever, Luis Avilan. The 30-year old Venezuelan-born pitcher also got an invite to attend major league spring training which starts in 20 days.

The newest Yankees reliever has spent eight seasons in the bigs, going 23-10, with a 3.28 ERA in 444 games—all relief appearances. He’s been more effective against lefty batters in his career, posting an opposing slash line of .203/.280/.283 against them vs. a .259/.340/.374 slash line against right-handed hitters.

Avilan posted a 5.06 ERA in 45 appearances with the Mets last season. He struggled in the early parts of the 2019 campaign before going on the injured list in early May due to left elbow soreness. The lefty returned from the IL on July 2 and posted a 1.02 ERA in 26 appearances between his return and September 6.

2019 was an especially impressive year for Avilan when it came to getting out left-handed batters.  Opposing lefties were just 5-for-49 against him last season—a .102 batting average against.  That was the second-lowest BAA for a pitcher against lefty hitters in the majors—with a minimum 40 plate appearances against lefty. Only Darwinzon Hernandez (.089) was better.

Avilan is mostly an off-speed pitcher. He threw his changeup 58.3 percent of the time last season.  He also features a low-90’s sinker, (which he’ll throw roughly thirty percent of the time) and a mid-70’s curveball (12.2 percent of the time).

More from Yankees News

What does this mean for the Yankees’ bullpen? Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton are the only other lefties out of the ‘pen for the Bronx Bombers. Having a third lefty available could prove beneficial, especially with the grind of a 162-game season.

Major League Baseball is also expanding the rosters from 25-to-26 for the 2020 campaign, so Avilan could benefit from the extra spot. Remember the injuries of the 2019 season? You can never have too many arms.

One rule change for 2020 could negatively impact Avilan’s chances to make the majors with New York—the three-batter minimum. Starting in 2020, pitchers will have to face three batters in a game or pitch to the end of a half-inning. Exceptions will be made for injuries and illnesses.

While Avilan was great against lefties last season, the opposite can be said of appearances against right-handed foes. Righty batters hit .373 against Avilan last season. That was the fourth-worst BAA for a pitcher against righty hitters in 2019. Only Dan Straily (.400), Zac Reininger (.375) and Edwin Jackson (.373, by percentage points) were worse. This was with a minimum of 75 plate appearances against right-handed batters.

Next. Five underrated moments from Derek Jeter's Hall of Fame career. dark

In other words, the game can no longer use pitchers as “lefty specialists.” If Avilan wants to stick in the Bronx, he’ll have to learn to get righties out.