Aaron Loup has, quietly, become the longest tenured Blue Jays player. He was drafted by the Jays in 2009, 9th round (JP Ricciardi was GM back then) and has been a part of our bullpen since 2012.
He’s seen a lot of guys come and go. He played with Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind, Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, Rajai Davis and J.P. Arencibia. Who figured he’d be the last one standing out of that group. In his first appearance he relieved starter Aaron Laffery. Also pitching for the Jays in that game: Jesse Chavez (his first time with the team), Drew Carpenter and Casey Janssen. He’s outlasted a number of lefties in the pen too.
Loup’s been around so long that he’s our active leader in games pitched (at 319) and number 10 on our all time list. His 34th appearance, this year, will move him past Jim Clancy for 7th. He needs 70 to get to the top 5. 187 would get him to first, but that’s 3 to 4 years away, and I’m doubting that will happen.
I think it is fair to say that Aaron isn’t the most loved Jay player. Any mention of him brings out the worst in my Facebook and Twitter comments.
Last year he pitched in 70 games, tied for 9th most in the AL. He was used in different ways, sometimes as a LOOGY, sometimes in long relief. He pitched a third of a inning (or less) 23 times. And he pitched 2 innings 5 times and more than an inning 15 times. He does seem to have the ability to pitch day after day without arm trouble.
Loup had a inconsistent season. He had a 10 day stretch where he hit 4 batters. The 4th was Freddie Freeman, who ended up with a broken wrist. 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.
He had a .721 OPS vs both left-handed and right-handed batters. Usually he is much better vs. LHP. I think his trouble with hitting lefty batters likely put him off. I’d think he’d be back to being much better against lefties this year.
The Jays have fellow lefties Matt Dermody and Tim Mayza on the 40-man and Craig Breslow, Chad Girodo and Jose Fernandez as non-roster invites, so there is a lot of competition for the lefty slots in the pen. But, Loup can’t be optioned (checking our handy dandy options and outright status table), has a contract and has tenure, so, unless spring training goes really bad, he has one of the slots.
PECOTA figures Loup to pitch in 57 games, put up a 3.96 ERA and a 0.6 WAR. All that seems reasonable to me.
You know, he is what he is, he’s going to have bad streaks, he’s going to have those moments when his curve stays too far inside and hits the batter, and he’s going to have moments when it doesn’t curve and it gets hit a long way.
As Matt said, Loup’s an enigma. I’m never sure what to expect from him, other than I know he’s always available to come into a game. In the modern MLB world, that’s a useful thing. We don’t get complete games anymore, we know tomorrow’s game we’ll need a reliever (or three), and then the next day, we’ll need them again. It is good to have someone who you know will be able to give you that inning or two.
Career he has an ERA+ of 125. He’s been over a strikeout an inning in each of the last three seasons. We could do worse.
But, he’s always a bad couple of months away from being released. We have some lefties coming up, some point we’ll find a couple we like better and Aaron will be out. He’s a free agent after the season, and a good part of his value is that he’s cheap. When he’s no longer cheap, it will be time to move on.
If we put the over/under on Loupy innings at 50 I’d take the
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