Jays From the Couch brings you the Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Highlights & Lowlights for lefty reliever, Aaron Loup.
After posting an ERA nearly two points higher (4.46) than his career ERA (2.77) in 2015, the 2016 season was set to be an opportunity for Aaron Loup to step up and right-the-ship. Unfortunately, for the Louisiana native his season was derailed quickly when he suffered elbow & forearm discomfort during Spring Training.
As a result the lefty opened the season on the disabled list, and suffered a setback during his rehab process. Loup wouldn’t make his 2016 MLB debut until May 28th in Toronto, against their A.L. East rivals, Boston Red Sox.
In total the former Tulane Green Wave contributed a 0-0 record with a 5.02 ERA over 14.1 innings pitched. In doing so he came out exactly neutral at 0.0 on both bWAR and fWAR.
Loup was excellent during his time with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, Buffalo Bisons. Over 21.1 IP, he put up an impressive 3-0 record with a 1.83 ERA while holding left-handed hitters to a .188 batting average. The lefty also averaged 11.9 K/9, with an excellent 8.67 K/BB ratio during his time as a Bison.
While it is true that Loup struggled during the 2016 campaign, there were definite signs that he was getting better at being the lefty-specialist the club needed. If it hadn’t been for his unremarkable start, his 158/273/167 slash, along with the 2.84 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 5.0 K/BB ratio against LHH from June thru September may have garnered a little more attention.
Without a doubt the injury setback for Loup was a low-light. What is often overlooked is the effect it had on the club as a whole. When the lefty down, Toronto looked to the open market and signed Franklin Morales for two million dollars. This was a move that resulted in a total contribution of 4.0 IP at a 9.00 ERA, and a DFA come August. A reactionary move which quickly turned to a cautionary tale.
The inability to get RHH out really hampered the lefty this season. Admittedly, Loup is nothing more than a LOOGY, and thus shouldn’t be used as anything but, at this point. Though with the bullpen struggling and manager, John Gibbons, often looking for help wherever it could be found, Loup was used in situations which were counterproductive to his success.
While his 3.86 ERA over 34 total-batter-faced looks respectable, it doesn’t take much digging to discover the 300/382/500 slash line, 1.71 WHIP, and 2.7 K/BB. This just shows he was often teetering on disaster whenever facing right-handed batters.
Loup was left off the postseason roster for the Blue Jays in 2016.
With the departure of the long time lefty bullpen resident Brett Cecil, the 2017 season is going to be an important one for Aaron Loup. The club is going to need him to take a step forward to show he is ready to take over the available role. While Loup will be looking to take advantage of an opportunity that could set up the remainder of his career.
The lefty is entering his 2nd year of arbitration eligibility, and has been offered a contract by the Blue Jays as of the December 2nd deadline. Loup earned $1,050,000 for 2016, and MLBTR has predicted him to come in at $1,200,000 for the 2017 season. Should the raise come in as predicted it wouldn’t be surprising to see both sides get things settled quickly.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison (flickr) – UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Wade is a long time baseball fan who has been involved with the game for over 30 years. Including as a former college player, amateur pitching coach, and blogger.