Acting general manager Zack Scott’s best signing of the offseason has not received nearly enough attention compared to some of the other notable Mets additions that have contributed to what is a first-place team this season.
Just over a week after former GM Jared Porter was canned for harassing former employees while working with the Chicago Cubs back in 2016 — and just three days after Scott took over — the Mets bolstered their bullpen with the signing of southpaw reliever, Aaron Loup, after he put together a strong showing with the AL pennant-holding Tampa Bay Rays last year.
A 2.54 ERA in 2020 was a suggestion that he had regained his form from earlier in his career — something he had lost from 2014-2019 with the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, and Philadelphia Phillies as he posted a 3.86 ERA during that stretch.
A sizable gamble going off just one year. Especially a COVID-shortened 60-game season. But the Mets were desperate for left-handed help in the bullpen considering they didn’t have a reliable option. They moved on from Justin Wilson, who signed with the Yankees in free agency, and had no other viable southpaw options to turn to.
Loup has answered the call, though, as one of the Mets’ most valuable relievers.
In 25 innings of work this season, the 33-year-old has a 1.80 ERA following another scoreless inning of work on Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers with 31 strikeouts compared to just five walks.
The only pitcher on the Mets’ roster with at least 25 innings pitched this season with a better ERA is Jacob deGrom.
He’s been even better in his last 14 appearances, posting a 0.66 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 13.2 innings of work. And that’s with a hiccup during the second game of a July 4 doubleheader against the Yankees in which he allowed a run on two walks.
Since May 22, only Josh Hader of the Brewers and Josh Taylor of the Boston Red Sox have been better.
Not bad for a veteran on a one-year, $3 million “show-me” deal.