Braves option Avilan to AAA, add lefty bullpen help

Luis Avilan was struggling of late, especially against left-handed hitters. The Braves optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, and purchased the contract of Chasen Shreve from Double-A Mississippi.

Geoff Burke/Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA — July can be a month of extreme change to an MLB roster. For the second day in a row, the Atlanta Braves tweaked their roster, optioning struggling left-handed relief pitcher Luis Avilan to Triple-A Gwinnett, while at the same time purchasing the contract of lefty Chasen Shreve from Double-A Mississippi.

Saturday’s move came approximately 24 hours after the Braves released second baseman Dan Uggla.

Avilan last pitched on July 13 against the Chicago Cubs. He gave up two earned runs and walked two. He faced three batters and didn’t record an out. That outing ballooned his ERA to 4.85, and brought his strikeout to walk ratio to a scary 18 to 15, almost even on the season.

The slide Avilan has been enduring this season has come as a bit of a shock. In 75 appearances last season, he masterfully crafted a 1.52 ERA and an 0.95 WHIP. That was after Avilan burst onto the scene in 2012 with a 2.00 ERA in 31 appearances.

"Luis hasn’t been pitching really well in the last two or three, four or five outings," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez on Saturday. "We feel sometimes it’s better to go down and get your stuff fixed. Get him command of his fastball, start throwing his breaking ball, which he seems he has lost a little bit since he’s been up here, and do it in an arena which is not Ryan Howard, Chase Utley with a man on third and one out."

Gonzalez told Avilan if he got command of his fastball in Triple-A, and got his breaking ball back to where it was when he first arrived in the big leagues, and Avilan would return to the team.

In 36 appearances at Mississippi, Shreve has built a 2.48 ERA with seven saves. In 54 1/3 innings of work, he’s struck out 76 batters and only walked nine.

Kyle Tait, the radio voice of the Mississippi Braves, offered a short scouting report via Twitter.

The Braves bullpen has been struggling of late versus left-handers. In 65 at-bats against lefties, Avilan allowed hitters a .277 average. That’s way up compared to the .144 average he allowed lefties in 2013.