Aaron Loup hopes to re-sign with Mets after 2021 season
MIAMI — Aaron Loup came to the Mets knowing if he underperformed he would hear about it from the fans.
But while other additions to the team have heard “boo” this season, the 33-year-old lefty reliever has been serenaded to a similar sound, with a 180-degree meaning.
“I get the ‘Loups — Loup,’” he said Wednesday before the Mets faced the Marlins.
He entered play with a 1.11 ERA and 0.904 WHIP in 57 appearances as the brightest spot in a bullpen that has been a team strength throughout the season.
Loup, who arrived on a one-year contract worth $3 million, admits he’s enjoyed his time with the Mets enough to start thinking beyond this season.
“I am hoping they intend to sign me back,” Loup said.
Loup’s highlights, entering play, included 50 of 57 appearances that were scoreless. And he had allowed just eight of his previous 27 inherited runners to score. Whether it’s been a matchup situation to complete an inning or pitching an entire frame, Loup has thrived.
For Loup, it’s been about pitching to weak contact — he ranks in the 99th percentile, according to baseball savant, in barreled balls against him. Overall, just 2.5 percent of the balls hit against Loup this season have been on the barrel.
“He is just filthy,” Seth Lugo said. “When he goes in the game everybody knows that everyone is about to get out. I never really paid attention to him before. I saw him pitching a little bit last year in the postseason for the Rays a little bit, but I never realized how good he was until I watched him pitch this year.”
Loup enjoyed strong seasons for the Blue Jays early in his career but didn’t re-emerge as something of a presence until 2020, when he pitched to a 2.52 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 24 appearances with Tampa Bay.
After the Mets missed on free-agent Brad Hand last winter (he signed with Washington), they turned to Loup, and haven’t regretted it. Hand, meanwhile, was recently claimed off waivers by the Mets and added to the bullpen.
“This is definitely one of, if not the best bullpen I have been a part of, from start to finish,” Loup said. “It’s been different guys, just not myself, everybody is having good years down there. Everybody has pitched out of big situations at some point, and it’s never the same guy each night, which makes it fun.
“You kind of know as the game goes along, whose spot is going to pitch where at this point, but every night it’s someone different. I have gotten out of big jams, Fama [Jeurys Familia] has gotten out of big jams, Trevor May, Lugo, everybody. Then you add a guy like Brad Hand who has been a three-time All-Star and a closer, it seems like we can do no wrong at this point.”
Loup has become something of a cult hero because of his penchant for enjoying a Busch Light after the game — something to which he first made reference during spring training.
He was asked if his fondness for the brand has led to an endorsement deal.
“I have not,” he said. “It’s not from a lack of effort, but I also don’t have social media, so I can’t really push it so much.”
Told his lack of interest in social media might explain his success in New York, Loup agreed.
“That’s probably a big part of it, to be honest with you,” he said. “We have got to deal with enough on the field and everything throughout the course of the year. Social media to me is an added distraction that you don’t necessarily need.”