The Tampa Bay Rays finished last season with the top bullpen ERA in the league. There are some interesting new arms auditioning for the elite squad this spring.
The veteran lefty will face a new challenge this season as the league requires pitchers to face a minimum of three batters or the end of the half-inning, whichever comes first. Loup has a career 3.45 ERA over
With the new three batter rule in place, there will be no place for LOOGYs in the game. Left-handed One-Out Guys will no longer have a role in the game. Loup has made a career as a side-arm throwing left-handed specialist.
For his career, Loup has traditionally struggled against righties more than lefties, allowing a .763 OPS against righties and a .623 against lefties. Fittingly, the Rays threw Loup into the fire on Monday against the Red Sox with three right-handed hitters coming up in a row.
Loup induced a flyout to center against the first batter he faced. He struck Nick Longhi out swinging on a nice cutter. Finally, Jeter Downs took him to a full count before freezing on a called strike three. Loup made quick work of the three consecutive right-handers. It was a great start to the spring for the former LOOGY. He obviously has major league stuff and so it’s time to hock the old label up and spit it out.
Aaron Loup will need to prove he can handle righties effectively to make the club in 2020. The Rays have five starters lined up and eight more relievers. Here’s a look at the relievers:
Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Colin Poche, Oliver Drake, Jose Alvarado, Chaz Roe, Peter Fairbanks, Andrew Kittredge. Assuming those guys all make the team, that’s already 12 of the 13 maximum roster spots allocated for pitchers on the new 26-man roster.
Loup will need to have a phenomenal spring to beat out the rest of the competition. He’s off to a good start.