Mets/non-Mets matchup: Aaron Loup and Adam Kolarek
In my opinion, there can never be enough sidearmers in Major League Baseball. These two pitchers are both lefty sidearm relievers that make a living off of fooling hitters with their unusual windups. Aaron Loup is a new Met this year, having played most recently for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020. Adam Kolarek, who was actually drafted by the Mets in 2010 before they released him in 2015, spent two-plus years with the Rays in 2017-2019 before landing in his current spot with the Oakland A’s.
These two lefty sidearmers faced off against each other in the 2020 World Series, when Loup was a key arm in the Rays bullpen and Kolarek was with the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. They were in unique company on those World Series rosters as two of the eight players across both teams who were never ranked on a top 30 prospects list.
As one of the newest members of the Mets relief corps, Loup brings with him a funky windup from the breeding ground of funky windups, AKA the Rays bullpen. He and Kolarek employ the sinker as a primary weapon in their pitching arsenals, both starting out their careers throwing that pitch approximately 80 percent of the time. Loup’s usage of the sinker has tailed off in recent years in favor of his cutter and curveball, while Kolarek’s sinker is still by far his number one pitch.
Their career opponent batting averages are nearly identical — Loup has held opposing hitters to a .251 average since he made his debut in 2012, and Kolarek has a career batting average against (BAA) of .245. However, when you split up that batting average across righties and lefties, there is much more disparity between their numbers. Righties have historically hit .307 off of Kolarek, while lefties have only hit .178. For Loup, the numbers are much more even — right-handed hitters have a .261 average against him, compared with .235 for lefties.
These two are not a perfect pitching match, but they have a similar brand of “lefty sidearm reliever/sinker specialist” and enough other similarities to make them worth comparing.