Blue Jays: Good, Bad, and Ugly- Aaron Loup


Jays Journal takes a look back at 2017, and the good, bad, and the ugly of each individual performance from the roster. This edition covers a mainstay of the Blue Jays bullpen since his MLB debut in 2012, the left-hander, Aaron Loup.

Aaron Loup burst onto the scene way back in 2012 for the Toronto Blue Jays when he was called up for the first time. Loup was called up and ended up throwing 30.2 innings with a 2.64 ERA, 1.92 FIP, and 0.9 fWAR. Loup followed up 2012 with 2 good seasons in a row in 2013 and 2014 where he never had an ERA above 3.15 or FIP above 3.83.

After three very effective years and a lot of work for Loup, things started to unravel for the left-hander in 2015. He carried an above 5.00 ERA into August of 2015 and was subsequently demoted to the AAA Buffalo Bisons. Loup ended up factoring in during the 2015 run to the ALCS after Brett Cecil‘s season ended with a calf injury. In 2016, Aaron Loup dealt with an arm injury that reportedly had bothered him in 2015 as well. He only threw 14.1 innings and they weren’t very good.

Going into 2017, Loup didn’t have a roster spot 100% secure for the first time since he arrived with the Blue Jays and it ended up being a nice little bounce-back for Loup. Let’s take a look at the Good, Bad, and Ugly from 2017 for Aaron Loup.

The Good

There were definitely a good amount of things we got to see from Aaron Loup in 2017 and one of them was him setting a career high in K/9 with 9.99. Basically 10 K/9, which is a fantastic number for a reliever. In his extremely small sample size in 2016, we saw Loup striking out more batters than normal for his career. That trend continued over a full 2017.

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We also saw Loup get back to not allowing the home run ball. In 2015 his HR/9 was at 1.28. It was at 1.26 for 2016. One thing Aaron Loup did quite well his first 3 seasons was not getting beat by the home run, as he didn’t post a HR/9 total of over 0.65 in that span. That number was at 0.62 in 2017. Loup also got back to inducing the ground ball back to near his career average, which was something that made him very successful in his first 3 seasons.

Ultimately, the best thing we saw from Aaron Loup in 2017 was that he was finally healthy. He had more zip on his sinking fastball compared to 2016 which helped him get part way back to the guy he was prior to 2015.

The Bad

The bad for Aaron Loup was in the form of how he was not overly good against left-handers in 2017. In fact, he handled right-handers better than he handled left-handers in 2017 in terms of batting average. Lefties slashed .268/.356/.366 against him. He wasn’t much better against right-handers, but still odd considering he’s handled left-handers quite well during his career.

Loup’s numbers are inflated due to a very bad middle of the season when he had an ERA of 8.64 in June and 5.73 in July. Outside of those months, he didn’t have an ERA of above 3.27. Imagine what his numbers would look like without such bad middle months of the season.

The Ugly

There wasn’t an overly amount of bad for Aaron Loup and just 1 truly ugly number for his performance in 2017. I’ll nitpick a bit with one of the numbers I’ll highlight but still, 6 HBP’s are not a very good number and something Loup will have to clean up come 2018.

The biggest UGLY number for Aaron Loup was how many batters he walked. It’s unacceptable for a reliever to come into a ball game and let it get away from you because of how many batters you walk. Loup walked an ugly 4.53 per 9 innings. That’s one reason why the opposition had such high OBP’s from both sides of the plate.

If Loup wants to get back to being a legitimate left-hander, he will need to figure out his control issues, because it has never been that bad in his career. Hopefully, for the Blue Jays and Loup, that number will end up being an anomaly.

Projecting 2018

Much like my piece on Ryan Tepera, it’s nearly impossible to predict how relievers will do season-to-season unless you’re a dominant reliever. That being said, Loup did get part way back to the guy he’s been in his career, which is an effective left-handed reliever.

Loup struggled against lefty batters in 2017, something he had never really done in his career before. I would imagine that number evens out a bit and that he does fare better against lefties next season, but it’s tough to say considering how lost he looked versus lefties at times this past season.

Next: Blue Jays: Good, Bad, and Ugly- Troy Tulowitzki

Ultimately, Loup will be used like how he was in 2017 again in 2018. To start the season, he will enter games with a short leash but if he proves he can get batters out consistently, he’ll start to be eased into higher leverage situations again. Loup was a 0.6 fWAR reliever in 2017. I think he can be right around the same again in 2018.