Padres PNO (Positive/Negative/Outlook): Pedro Avila

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Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

After posting an 8.00+ ERA in the minors, injuries forced Pedro Avila onto the Padres major league roster. After his time in 2023 at the big league level, he may have done enough to earn consideration for a larger role on the team.

In a season where 13 pitchers made starts for the Padres, it is safe to say the team’s pitching depth was most definitely tested. The Padres made plenty of calls to El Paso for reinforcements, and one of those calls certainly answered.

Enter Pedro Avila.

He had been having a miserable season in the pitcher’s nightmare known as the Pacific Coast League but was recalled by the team after injuries to the bullpen, making his first appearance with three scoreless innings against the Reds. He was brought back up to the roster on July 23, and it was full steam ahead from there.

While many of the Padres’ depth starting options may have underperformed, the same could not be said of Avila, who posted a 3.42 ERA & 3.74 FIP from July 23 to the end of the season over 13 appearances (with six being starts).

Despite the presence of Matt Waldron, Adrian Morejon, Glenn Otto, and prospects like Jay Groome, Jairo Iriarte, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vasquez on the 40-man roster, Avila goes into Spring Training as a candidate for a rotation spot. Looking back at what got him here, here are some positives and negatives about his 2023 season:


Quality of Contact

In El Paso, Pedro Avila was not quite a strikeout artist over the last two seasons, with a strikeout rate that had been trending down over the last three seasons. Since coming back from Tommy John surgery, his repertoire has become more focused on vertical breaking pitches. This has led to an uptick in contact percentage, but in 2023, at the big league level, that translated to a higher ground ball percentage.

His ground ball rate of 60.3% placed him in the 98th percentile of all big league pitchers. Nowhere was this more evident in his September 5 start against the contending Phillies, where, despite six walks (we’ll come back to this), he was able to induce four double plays over 6.2 scoreless innings. While discussing quality of contact, his barrel rate of 4.4% was in the top 90th percentile of all major league pitchers.

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To sum up, when batters made contact, it often ended up on the ground and not hit overly hard. This high amount of ground balls pairs very well with the Padres’ above-average defensive infield, which bodes well for Avila’s 2024 projections.


In his 14 games with the Padres in 2023, Avila pitched in both starting roles and bullpen roles. He pitched in eight games as a reliever while also starting six games. The Padres lost Nick Martinez in free agency to Cincinnati, and his versatility as a pitcher is an element the Padres will need.

A noteworthy statistic about Avila’s season was his splits between roles. As a reliever, he posted a 1.46 ERA over 24 ⅔ innings, coupled with a 28 – 9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Here are Avila’s 2023 splits based on roles (numbers courtesy of Baseball Reference):

As Starting Pitcher: 6 Games (25.2 Innings, 4.91 ERA, 26 K’s, 16 BB, 9.1 K/9, 1.675 WHIP)
As Relief Pitcher: 8 Games (24.2 Innings, 1.46 ERA, 28 K’s, 9 BB, 10.2 K/9, 1.014 WHIP)

While his starting stats are inflated due to his September 11 start against the Los Angeles Dodgers (2.2 innings, six hits, seven earned runs), it is still worth noting. Without that start, his ERA decreases to 2.73 as a starter in 23 innings. Avila also has started a majority of his games in the minors (39 starts in 49 games at Triple-A from 2022-23). Noting all of these numbers, Avila could be a candidate for not only a starting role but a swingman role as well.



While Avila has been in the Padres system since 2015, he has only 63 ⅔ innings of MLB experience since 2019. His experience in the bigs goes as follows:
2019: 1 game, 5 ⅓ innings
2020: Lost due to Tommy John Surgery
2021: 1 game, 4 innings
2022: 2 games, 4 innings
2023: 14 games, 50 ⅓ innings

Avila was never really guaranteed a role, be it due to injuries or numbers in the Pacific Coast League. The former El Paso Chihuahuas single-season strikeout king could look to make a major impact on the roster, but his major league experience (or lack thereof) could work against him. But then again, the only way to know how a pitcher will perform is with opportunity.

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Command in Starting/Relief Roles

In Avila’s September 5 start against the NL runner-up Philadelphia Phillies, he induced four double plays. Those four double plays wiped out an MLB career-high *six* walks. In his six starts for the Padres, his walk numbers were as follows: 2, 3, 3, 6, 3, 0.

The outlier is again the Dodgers game, but it raises an interesting point. Batters would be able to start to pick up on the movement of pitches the more they see him.

As a reliever, most often in multi-inning relief, Avila only walked nine batters in an almost identical sample of 24 ⅔ innings. He also allowed fewer hits in relief roles (16 as a reliever, 27 as a starter). As seen on the table in the Versatility section, his strikeout ratio was also higher out of the bullpen, likely from batters having fewer chances to see the movement on his pitches.


Pedro Avila, from a numbers perspective, appears as an under-the-radar pick to play a major role in the 2024 Padres.

As a contender for a starting role, Avila will be counted upon to provide meaningful innings to this team in the 2024 season, be it starting the year in the rotation or in a long relief role, either by eating innings after a bad start or bridging the gap from a starter to the Padres’ revamped back end of the bullpen. Look for Avila to build upon his successes from 2023 into the 2024 season.

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