Aaron Loup Not A Great Signing For Mets
The New York Mets had one opening in their bullpen, and they were ideally looking for a left-handed reliever. When their pursuit of Brad Hand failed, the Mets moved towards more of a LOOGY in Aaron Loup.
The good is Loup is good against left-handed hitters. For his career, Loup has limited them to a .232/.301/.319 batting line. That was partially fueled by an outstanding 2020 where Loup limited them to .212/.278/.303.
Really, 2020 was an outstanding season for Loup. In 24 appearances, he was 3-2 with a 2.52 ERA, 0.840 WHIP, 1.4 BB/9, and a 7.9 K/9. In many ways, including ERA+, it was the best year of Loup’s career.
When you have a 33 year old starter having a career year, you do have to question the ability to repeat that year. That goes double when it happened in a shortened season. When looking at the numbers, it appears very dubious Loup can be as good in 2021 as he was in 2020.
First and foremost, his .219 BABIP is likely due for a significant regression. That goes double when you consider he has a .304 career mark, and he’s leaving the Tampa Bay Rays, who are the best at aligning defenses.
There’s also his Baseball Savant data. He pitched to contact with very low velocity and spin. Looking at it, you may question just how he got away with it all year. The answer is deception.
With the addition of left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, the Mets 40-man roster is now at 39. pic.twitter.com/W5Ka9oMoiW
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) January 27, 2021
Now, deception like that will always play. However, it usually plays one way. That’s the way it’s proved out in MOST of Loup’s career.
While he’s kept left-handed hitters at bay, right-handed hitters have teed off on him to the tune of a .264/.332/.424 batting line. That was completely different in 2020 with Loup getting the better of right-handed hitters.
In fact, Loup dominated them and was better against them than lefties. Right-handed batters only mustered a .192/.246/.423 batting line off of him.
This was a complete outlier. Over the Sox years previous to 2020, right-handed batters OPS against Loup ranged from .721 to .925. If Loup returns to those levels, and given his BABIP, he very well might, that’s problematic.
Remember, the days of the LOOGY are gone. All relievers must pitch to at least three batters. There are some exceptions like retiring the last batter of an inning. That said, most often Loup will be called upon to face at least three batters.
For Loup to be a useful and effective reliever, he needs to be able to repeat his 2020. That’s highly debatable. You are also left to wonder if Steven Matz could’ve better fit this role before the trade. On that note, Joey Lucchesi, who is now a starter, or another free agent reliever could’ve better fit this role.
There’s also the matter of why do you even need a LOOGY. Again, the rules are set to make a LOOGY a thing of the past. You do have to wonder if Trevor Rosenthal, a pitcher with good splits against left-handed hitters, would’ve been a better investment.
On that note, we should take into account, Loup was a backup option, and it’s just a one year deal. Maybe he repeats his 2020 breakout, and maybe he regresses to career norms. For a one year deal, it’s worth a shot even if there were better ways to address this spot in the bullpen.
So, in the end, this wasn’t a great move by the Mets. By the same token, it’d be a stretch to call it a bad one. The Mets probably should’ve done better here, but if Loup is good again, then the Mets did extremely well.