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The season that was: Aaron Loup

Looking at Aaron Loup’s 2017 season

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Coming into the season, Aaron Loup was the second lefty in the Blue Jays bullpen. Then , when J.P. Howell couldn’t get anyone out, Loup became the number one lefty in the pen. Then, at times, the only lefty in the pen. Then, occasionally, someone would be called up and would become the first lefty, until he had a terrible game, then they would send him back to the minors.

It seems to be the way Loup’s career has gone, he’s been less terrible than the other lefties we’ve used. So, after six seasons, he’s still in our bullpen.

Year   Age W L  ERA  G SV   IP  H ER HR BB SO HBP ERA+  FIP  SO9
2017    29 2 3 3.75 70  0 57.2 59 24  4 29 64   6  123 3.66 10.0

Baseball Reference had him at a 0.5 WAR. FanGraphs 0.6, giving him a value of $4.6 million to the Jays.

He had 6 holds. Gibby seemed to use him in blow outs, at least early in the season, giving him higher leverage spots as the season went on.

Loup had a 3.66 FIP and a 4.05 FIP.

Batters had a .340 BABIP against him.

With RISP .254/.359/.403.

Compared to 2016, Aaron’s strikeout rate was exactly the same (24.2%). His walk rate was up (10.9%, from 6.5).

He gave up far fewer line drives (20.1%, from 32.5). Fewer fly balls (26.4%, from 27.5). More ground balls (53.5%, from 40.0). Fewer of his flies left the park (9.5%, from 18.2). His hard contact rate down (22.3%, from 27.5).

His left/right splits were pretty even (lefties .280/.356/.366, right-handers .250/.365/.356), a change from his norm.

He was hit harder at home (.283/.367/.381), than on the road (.241/.356/.339) but his ERA was much the same (3.72 home, 3.77 road).

His second half (2.73 ERA, .255/.339/.343) was better than his first half (4.60, .268/.379/.374).

Loup by month:

  • April: 1.04, .242/.375/.242 in 8.2 innings.
  • May: 3.27, .233/.327/.349 in 11 innings (4 hit batters).
  • June: 8.64, .371/.450/.571 in 8.1 innings.
  • July: 5.73, .214/.298/.310 in 11 innings.
  • August: 2.45, .319/.407/.426 in 11 innings.
  • September: 1.17, .160/.300/.200 in 7.2 innings.

Loup went through a little stretch where batters were getting in the way of his pitches (one of those pitches broke the wrist of Freddie Freeman). In May he faced 49 batters, hitting 4. I thought he problem was mostly against lefties, but, on the season, he hit 3 right-handers and 3 left-handers. He hit 1 of every 36 lefties, 1 out of every 52 right-handers.

After breaking Freeman’s wrist, on May 14th, Loup didn’t hit another batter until July 15th. Of course, he also went through the worst stretch of his season at the same time.

Gibby used Loup as a LOOGY, some of the time, but also in long relief. He pitched 2 innings in 5 games, 4 of those in the first 27 games of the season. He pitched more than an inning 15 times. It seems like maybe we can’t afford to use anyone as a LOOGY all the time, if you are in the pen, sometimes you are going to have be used in less than optimum roles.

For a reliever with a career 3.34 ERA, he seems to get more than his share of hate. I never really understand it, but then we seem to pick some guys as heroes and some guys as villains.

I’d imagine the front office would like to find another lefty for the pen over the winter. Aaron’s arbitration eligible for the second time, so he’s still relatively inexpensive. And he’s out of options. And, as Matt pointed out, Aaron is our team tenure leader, having over 5 years of service time with the Jays.

I have little doubt that he’ll make it to spring training as a Jay. What will happen during spring is anyone’s guess. On our 40-man roster we have lefties Ryan Borucki, Matt Dermody and Tim Mayza. I’d imagine there will be some spring training invites. And, perhaps someone signed or traded for by then, to add to the competition this spring. I’m not sure what I’d guess the odds are that Loup starts the season on the Jays roster. 50/50?