The Blue Jays currently have a six-man bullpen following the promotion of Devon Travis
Coming into the year the Blue Jays bullpen, outside of a couple unknowns (Aaron Sanchez/Gavin Floyd, second lefty) appeared to be a strength. But past the quarter mark of the season it has become an enigma with very few certainties.
This is a bullpen that, at times, has featured a pitcher who can throw with both arms (Pat Venditte), but can’t seem to pitch well with either. A bullpen that was using a righty with reverse splits (Ryan Tepera) as their second lefty out of the pen after Brett Cecil, and the all-star reliever has struggled mightily himself prior to hitting the disabled list.
Outside of the always stone cold and steady Roberto Osuna and a couple other arms (Joe Biagini seems to be becoming one of those guys), there have really been no set roles and with it no certainty.
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But the Blue Jays could soon be getting an arm back that was a steadying force in their pen in the past. If it weren’t for his struggles last year, and his injuries to start the year, he would be the first name out of the mouth of Blue Jays fans attempting to decipher the bullpen conundrum.
And that man’s name is Aaron Loup.
For three years, from 2012 to 2014, Loup was a man that John Gibbons could rely on night in and night out as a stabilizing force who could get both righties and lefties out with relative ease. In 168 appearances over those seasons, Loup recorded a 2.77 ERA.
While he was never dominating, he played a good game with very low walk numbers (while his career average of 2.2 BB/9 is great in itself his 2012 season with 0.6 BB/9 was sensational). His strikeout numbers were never anything to write home about, but his ability to pitch with good control in combination with his funky arm angle and delivery, was enough to get him to a level where he was easily a top-3 arm in the Blue Jays bullpen.
All that seemed to change in 2015.
Firstly, his strikeout numbers started to go up with his velocity, but with it came increased walks. And when your game relies on control and limitation of base on balls, this can be a career destroyer. And it still very well could be.
With some time to work on his mechanics in the minors and through rehab, one can only hope that Aaron Loup can return back to being the man we once knew him as. The 28-year-old has held left-handed hitters to a career line of .206 / .272 / .283.
And really, how much better are the other (healthy) options out there?
Pat Venditte hasn’t looked terribly reliable over his six and two-thirds major league innings this season. Ryan Tepera has been no stopper by any definition of the word. And while Dustin Amolin was a great feel-good story, we all saw how that worked out.
And with the “big names” like Drew Storen or Brett Cecil (the two seen as Toronto’s key setup guys coming into the season) either hurt or ineffective, I truly believe that once he is all the way back in his rehab (should be any day now) Aaron Loup should be the next name we hear getting a call up to the Toronto Blue Jays.