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OC Register: Angels lefty Aaron Loup plans to return to what made him successful


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BALTIMORE — As Aaron Loup moves toward a return from the injured list, the Angels left-hander has an idea of how to turn around his season.

“I definitely think I need to throw more fastballs, to get back to doing what I’ve done my whole career,” Loup said this week. “Outside of that, just better pitches. Whatever it takes to get outs.”

Loup, who is expecting to be activated within a week, has been on the injured list with a relatively minor hamstring injury that has provided him an opportunity to step back and re-evaluate what has gone wrong so far this season. He allowed seven earned runs in nine innings over his first 11 games.

Loup said he realizes that poor execution of pitches has been a problem, but he also continues to believe that what he describes as a “consensus effort for us a group” to throw more off-speed pitches didn’t work for him.

In 2020-21, Loup threw his two fastballs – a two-seamer and a cutter – more than 80% of the time. He had a 1.43 ERA over 89 games in those two seasons, including an 0.95 ERA in 2021 that earned him a two-year, $17-million deal with the Angels.

Last season, Loup’s pitch-usage was similar, but his ERA still jumped to 3.84. This year, the fastball rate is down to a career low 63%, including 37% for his two-seamer.

Loup said the Angels determined that throwing more off-speed and breaking pitches would help get more swings and misses, which was preferable in a game with infield shifts prohibited.

“I get my share of punchouts, but I’ve never been a strikeout guy,” Loup said. “I don’t have the velo some of these other guys have, mid 90s, upper 90s, but I have to get a hitter to stay honest about having to honor the fastball. That’s what makes the rest of my stuff better.  If I want to get a guy out on a changeup, I have to navigate that at-bat to where I set it up so when I use it, I get the result I want. I can’t just go changeup, changeup, changeup, changeup. If a guy has seen it four times, when I need it to work, it’s not going to work.”

Manager Phil Nevin said there was more to Loup’s struggles that simple pitch selection, which Loup also concedes.

“I think the idea of throwing more fastballs is fine, as long as he’s locating them well,” Nevin said. “When he was kind of struggling there for a little bit, he was not locating the fastball as well as he has in the past. He’ll tell you the same thing. If he can get consistency and locating and repeating pitches, the fastball is a very effective pitch for him. He’s got three very effective pitches, and it’s just a matter of getting the consistency and repeating pitches like he has in the past.”

NETO’S DEFENSE

A month into his big-league career, shortstop Zach Neto has surpassed the defensive expectations Nevin had for him.

“He’s a better defender than I thought,” Nevin said. “When I saw film of him in college before the draft, we felt like there were some things he needed to get better at and shore up. Our player development guys and coaching staff down there have done a phenomenal job with him. A few quick adjustments with his feet, with his throwing. At the end of the day, he’s got really, really good hands. His instincts are very good for a young player, as we’ve seen. Really excited what the future looks like for him. He’s fun to watch play.”

This trip has been filled with spectacular plays for Neto, including catching a popup while running into left field Wednesday night.

Nevin said it was the best play he’d ever seen for a shortstop on that type of play.

NOTES

Mike Trout is expected to get the day off Friday. The Angels have been trying to avoid having Trout play immediately after a cross-country flight, because he’s been injured in the past in that situation. His calf injury in 2021 was the day after a flight from Boston to Southern California. In 2022, he was hurt twice within a couple days after flights from the East Coast. …

The Angels began play Thursday with a 22-22 record, the 10th time this season they have been at .500.

UP NEXT

Angels (LHP Reid Detmers, 0-3, 4.89) vs. Twins (RHP Joe Ryan, 6-1, 2.16), 6:38 p.m. Friday, Angel Stadium, Bally Sports West, 830 AM.

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3 hours ago, AngelsWin.com said:

"As Aaron Loup moves toward a return from the injured list, the Angels left-hander has an idea of how to turn around his season."

i thought the answer was going to be something like "trade him to the white sox."

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Although I’ve called for Loup to be DFA’d countless times, I do hope he’s successful if given another chance with the Angels.

The Angels bullpen could use a reliable lefty behind Moore with Quijada out. Loup may not have that in him anymore, but the team apparently thinks he does, so he needs to show it.

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42 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

The question then is, how long does Loup get to show something other than disappointment?

Two weeks?  A month?

When Tepera returned from the IL, he was DFA'd after his next blowup. So i imagine with Loup it'll be the same appearance-to-appearance leash. Probably an emphasis on if he's executing his pitches or missing spots.

Aaron Loup is Aaron Poup right now, but i also still hope he can save his season. Would be a lot more fun to be wrong about him being washed

Side note: Aaron Poup is my fantasy team's name

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