The Los Angeles Angels have had a rollercoaster of a year. They've had some great moments along with some awful ones. At 52-49, they're just 3.5 games back of the third Wild Card spot, and are doing whatever it takes to try and hold off trading Shohei Ohtani.
A way for the Angels to start winning enough would be for the bullpen to come through. Despite a rough night last night, Carlos Estevez has been one of the best closers in baseball. Matt Moore, even with his missed time, has been an elite set-up man. Outside of those two, it's been just inconsistency in the bullpen.
LA Angels pitcher Aaron Loup has earned back our trust
For much of his tenure with the team, Aaron Loup has been vilified by Angels fans. His first season in Anaheim wasn't great, but he got a lot more hate than he deserved. This season, the disgust in his direction was warranted as he posted an ERA of 7.00 in his first 11 appearances and had lost the Angels a number of games early on that they should've won.
Loup went onto the IL following his implosion on May 4th in St. Louis, and since returning, he's been a different guy. The southpaw has a respectable 3.68 ERA in 21 appearances. The ERA, while good, doesn't even indicate how well he's pitched. He's allowed runs in just five of his 21 appearances since returning, and four of the nine runs he's given up in that span came in one rough outing against the Dodgers. For the most part, Loup has been the Loup we expected last season.
It's important to note that a lot of this great work has been in lower-leverage spots, but Loup has shined when Phil Nevin has let him pitch in big spots. He pitched a scoreless top of the tenth against the Yankees which allowed the Angels to walk them off in the bottom half. Last night he got the save in the bottom of the tenth after the Angels gave him a skinny one-run lead. Loup stranded the ghost runner and looked good doing it, throwing 10 strikes out of his 11 pitches and fanning two.
Loup has earned back the trust of Angels fans. He's not the primary left-hander, that's Matt Moore, but he can be relied upon to pitch in a big spot if the need is there with how well he's thrown the ball for two months now.