Amazing Start for Atlanta Reliever

In perusing early season stats this morning, I happened to look at the leaders in wins in the National League, and there I saw the name Luis Avilan, a 24-year-old-lefty reliever with the Atlanta Braves, who over two prior major league seasons appeared in 106 games, pitching 101 innings, and compiling a 3-1 won-lost record.

But there he sits today, at the top of National League, tied for the most wins with 3, and possessing a strangely identical 3-1 won-lost record. But what is amazing is that he has won three games while making seven relief appearances, while pitching a grand total of

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four innings, and while compiling an ERA of 13.50 and a WHIP of 2.75, all stats that would normally get him a seat on the next bus to Triple-A, if not his name on the waiver wire.

But it seems that in the three games where he was in the right place at the right time to “earn” a win, he allowed a total of six runs, all earned, over 2-1/3 innings pitched, but the rest of the Braves’ staff allowed only seven more runs in their 24-2/3 inning portions of those three games, while the team scored 18 runs, a formula that while not pretty, can get you wins most every time.

Most of the runs he has allowed this season were in his last outing, where under certain archaic scoring rules, he was given the victory, despite blowing a four-run, eighth-inning lead, when the Braves came back to regain the lead, with Avilan the pitcher of record.

Time was, that official scorers could and did on occasion, actually ignore the literal “pitcher of record” rule, and award the victory to the next pitcher if they felt that the pitcher of record when his team went ahead for good had pitched “briefly and ineffectually”. Well, in that last game, on April 14, Avilan could not have pitched more ineffectually, giving up the four run lead while allowing four hits and a walk, and five earned runs (an ERA of 45.00 for the game), while pitching a single inning. I guess pitching one whole inning does not qualify as “Briefly”.

Despite the long list of key Atlanta pitchers who have recently suffered serious injuries and who are either out for extended periods or who are still trying to rehab back to active duty, Braves’ pitching, Avilan aside, has been outstanding so far this season, leading the majors with an outstanding 2.44 team ERA. Their bullpen is also leading the NL in saves with six, none of which

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have been credited, deservedly or not, to Avilan.

Where would the Brave be and what record would they have if Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Gavin Floyd, Jonny Venters, and Cory Gearrin had also been able to pitch, at all, so far this season? As it is, they currently have the second best record in baseball, behind only the surprising Milwaukee Brewers. As it is, with the heart of the starting staff disabled, all five pitchers who have started games for Atlanta so far this season have ERAs under 3.00, and four of them have ERAs under 2.00. As I write this, I see that one of them, former Dodger Aaron Harang, just lost a no-hit bit in the eighth inning. He is out of the game now, having given up zero earned runs, and lowering his season ERA to 0.70.

And just guess who replaced him on the mound? Yep, Luis Avilan.

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