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Mets News: Signing Aaron Loup enhances bullpen’s effectiveness

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Aaron Loup #15 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the eighth inning in Game Two of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 21, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 21: Aaron Loup #15 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the eighth inning in Game Two of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 21, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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On Wednesday afternoon the New York Mets signed free agent left-handed reliever Aaron Loup to a one-year deal in what is a much-needed move for the bullpen after missing out on fellow southpaw reliever Brad Hand.

The 33-year old Loup is coming off of a great season against left-handed hitters in 2020 with the Tampa Bay Rays in which he dominated to a .212 batting average against with eight strikeouts and one walk in 38 left-handed batter plate appearances. It’s also important to note Loup’s overall success against left-handed batters as a whole as he holds a career .232 batting average against lefties.

As a whole Loup had a productive season for the Rays, as he finished the regular season with a 2.52 ERA over 25 innings pitched, which also includes a lowly .192 batting average against right-handed batters. Loup played a vital role in the Rays successful bullpen that carried them to the World Series last season and undoubtedly fills a role currently as the premier left-handed option out of the Mets bullpen.

With the addition of free agent reliever Aaron Loup, the New York Mets bullpen is no longer lacking in left-handed experience.

The Mets bullpen before Loup’s signing was shallow on experienced left-handed relievers as their options included Thomas Szapucki, who has not pitched in the major’s yet, and Daniel Zamora who only has 17.2 career major league innings. While the Mets did sign Jerry Blevins to a minor league contract earlier this season, it’s fair to wonder how much is left in the tank for the 37-year old after not pitching in 2020, which makes Loup’s signing all the more important for the organization.

Loup’s four-pitch arsenal contains a sinker, a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup. Loup threw his sinker almost 50% of the time last season which clocks in at an average velocity of 92 MPH, and batters only hit .225 against it. Hitters also only hit .182 against Loup’s cutter (which he throws 31% of the time) and .125 against Loup’s changeup (which he throws 8% of the time). Those numbers further justify Loup’s dominance in 2020.

With the new rule change that was established last season of pitchers having to face a minimum of three batters, it’s essentially eliminated the job of a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. With Loup having his fair share of success against right-handed batters he can also provide value to the Mets bullpen as a pitcher who you don’t have to overly concern yourself with regards to his splits.

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Loup’s addition sets the Mets 40-man roster at 39 players currently and I wouldn’t be surprised if the front office makes a couple of other additions to deepen the overall depth in the ‘pen. But the front office deserves credit for rebounding with a strong signing despite not getting Brad Hand as many had anticipated, including me, much of the offseason. For Mets fans unfamiliar with Loup, you can simply sum this acquisition up as a sneaky good move for an offseason that’s been filled with splashes to this point at the end of January.

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