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Aaron Loup is having one of the best seasons by a Mets reliever in franchise history. And it’s not particularly close.
No Mets reliever in the past five decades – yes, you read that right – has come close to putting up numbers like Loup has in 2021 for the Amazin’s. The left-hander’s 1.09 ERA in 49.2 innings out of the pen is the lowest relief ERA in Mets history, and that’s not even including his two scoreless starts totaling three innings. Loup has allowed just six earned runs in 52.2 innings across 61 games this year.
Tug McGraw and Jesse Orosco are next lowest on the Mets reliever leaderboard, posting 1.47 ERAs in 1969 and 1983, respectively. McGraw allowed 13 earned runs in 79.2 innings, whereas Orosco permitted 18 earned runs in 110 innings. Next up on that list is Bob Apodaca, who recorded a 1.49 ERA in 105 innings in 1975 for the Mets.
Loup, with his Busch Light beer can loyally affixed to his postgame podium, has become a fan-favorite with his dominant performances this season. And, as the long baseball season winds down, Loup’s outings have only gotten better.
He has allowed just two earned runs over his last 46 games, posting a 0.44 ERA in that span. In 30 games following the All-Star break, he has recorded a 0.36 ERA with seven walks and 19 strikeouts. Loup has held left-handed hitters to a .169 batting average this year, surrendering only two extra-base hits.
Loup’s 1.09 ERA in relief appearances is the lowest in the league among relievers with at least 40 innings pitched. His incredible season is another reason the Mets’ free fall out of first place has stung. Had the club held on to its position, the 1-2 punch of Loup and Edwin Diaz in the postseason would be one to avoid for opposing teams.
Alas, Mets fans are left wondering whether Loup can repeat his powerful year in 2022. The Mets signed Loup to a one-year, $3 million deal in January and they would be mindless to let him walk away after the best season of his 10-year career. Mets owner Steve Cohen should anchor his strongest arm of the 2021 season, pay the happy-go-lucky, country-music loving southpaw whatever he demands, and reinforce the relievers around Loup to build an even stronger, less taxed bullpen for next year.
The Mets have lost 15 of their last 17 one-run games coming into Saturday. They have a 28-32 record in one-run games overall this season. The outcomes don’t get much better when they score just a few runs, either. When the Mets score three or fewer runs they are 13-60 this year. But when they score four or more, they’re 59-16.
The offense has routinely failed to collect the clutch at-bat or record the timely hit. Those tight losses have made the Mets believe they are “in it” every game. What it should tell them is that they’re consistent, just consistent in all the wrong ways.
BRAVES LEAVING DOOR AJAR… FOR PHILLIES
The Mets lost to the Phillies on Friday and the Braves lost to the Giants in extra innings, which allowed Philadelphia to creep just two games behind the first-place Braves. As has been the case all year, no team is running away with the NL East title. Atlanta has lost five of its last 10 games. The Phillies have lost six of their last 10. And the Mets, well, they’re not factoring into the division race right now.
Any more losses the Mets suffer to the Phillies this weekend as part of their three-game series at Citi Field, and Luis Rojas’ club is just gifting their rival a good, late run to the top.
“It’s hard,” Rojas said of losing to the Phillies in a pennant race. “When you say control what you can control, it’s turning to the next page and going to the next day when we still have a chance. They’re tough. Every time a loss happens as we narrow down to the end of the season, it’s hard. It’s tough to take.”