San Diego Padres: Emilio Pagán could be a factor in postseason run

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Emilio Pagan #15 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates after the final out against the Oakland Athletics to win the American League Wild Card Game 5-1 at RingCentral Coliseum on October 02, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 02: Emilio Pagan #15 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates after the final out against the Oakland Athletics to win the American League Wild Card Game 5-1 at RingCentral Coliseum on October 02, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Former Tampa Bay Rays reliever Emilio Pagan could be elite for the San Diego Padres

To revamp their bullpen for the new season, Emilio Pagán had become the latest addition to a core who needed help. When the San Diego Padres were finally able to move center fielder Manuel Margot, what they may not have expected was a return and a player who could help them reach the postseason for the first time in nearly 15 years.

Resigning guys like Craig Stammen and adding big-time arms like Drew Pomeranz, with the back end of Kirby Yates, the Padres’ bullpen could be one of the most dominant in all of baseball. Add in the newest member in Pagán and, well, you’re looking at a potential top-three pen.

San Diego Padres: Moving around the league

When the first official pitch of the 2020 Major League Baseball season is thrown, Pagán will have begun his fourth year in the Show with his fourth team. Originally a product of the Seattle Mariners, Pagán is a former 10th round selection from the 2013 amateur draft.

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He moved through the Mariners system, reaching the majors in 2017. Pagán appeared in 34 games in his rookie season, pitching to the tune of a respectable 3.22 ERA and a 3.28 FIP over 50 1/3 innings. Most impressive was his ability to control the zone. He struck hitters out at a 28.6 percent clip and registered just a 4.8 percent walk rate.

In a surprise move, M’s GM Jerry Dipoto did just about the most ‘Jerry Dipoto’ thing and traded Pagán to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for first baseman Ryon Healy. The Healy experience did not work out, unsurprisingly.

While spending his 2018 season in Oakland, Pagán saw his numbers jump quite a bit. He struck fewer batters out, losing some semblance of control. He posted a 4.35 ERA in 62 innings. Oakland sent Pagàn in a package deal the following winter to Tampa in exchange for a slew of players in a three-team trade that involved the Texas Rangers.

Pagán took his stuff to a whole new level with Tampa. He pitched 70 innings over 66 games, racking up 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA. To boot, Pagán also improved his strikeout rate as it climbed to 36 percent and dropped his walk rate back to just 4.9 percent. Opposing hitters hit just .178 off Págan.

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For a guy going into his fourth clubhouse in as many seasons, it will not be a surprise for Pagán to align to a new clubhouse and culture. He is a competitor and has the attitude that no matter where he is, he will be a contributor.

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Pagán enters once again into one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in all of baseball. His ability to keep the baseball in the park will be less battle-tested in Petco than in Tropicana. Bringing in the ability to strike hitters out at a ridiculous rate will also be a strength for the Padres and Pagán.

The Padres had a top ten bullpen in terms of WAR last season. They can still very much improve upon their collective 4.59 ERA, however. Mitigating walks will also be tantamount to their success. As a 60-game season is on the cusp of commencing, fingers crossed, a shorter season should only help their success and growth. Pagán can be the guy to help anchor the core and push them to a postseason berth in 2020.

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