1) Left-handed pitcher Aaron Loup
Speaking of the aforementioned Tampa Bay Rays, Aaron Loup was signed away from the Rays by the Mets to become their primary left-handed reliever out of the bullpen. However, it doesn’t go without saying that Loup may be the first pitcher asked to be used as an opener this season and he seems to be taking it in stride.
Loup had been asked publicly during camp on his thoughts of being used as an opener for the Mets this upcoming season, and he gave one of the best quotes of Spring Training thus far. Loup indicated his willingness to become an opener for the Mets by stating, “Who wouldn’t want to be the guy to start the game and then get to sit in the clubhouse and drink a few brews on the back end and watch the rest of it?”
It’s certainly the right attitude to have as Loup seems to be the likeliest of all pitchers out of the bullpen currently projected to make the Mets Opening Day roster to pitch in that spot. It’s not undeserving either, as Loup held left-handed batters to a .212 batting average last season and right-handed hitters to a .192 batting average.
Unlike many other relievers who typically rely on fewer than four different types of pitches, Loup contains a four-pitch arsenal that contains a sinker, a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup. Hitters struggled to pick up on Loup’s pitches last season as hitters only hit .225 against his sinker, they also only hit.182 against Loup’s cutter, and .125 against Loup’s changeup.
While Loup has made 406 career appearances over his nine-year tenure, he never started a game to this point. But Loup’s familiarity of being in an organization that prioritizes using an opener certainly helps, as well as the variety of pitches he can successfully use to keep a hitter off-balance in the first inning.