Padres manager Jayce Tingler and the team’s trainer checked on Emilio Pagan in Sunday’s finale. Tingler’s status update is worrisome.
Just about as the Padres were putting the finishing touches on sweeping the Houston Astros this weekend, manager Jayce Tingler and the team’s trainer ran out to the mound to check on Emilio Pagan with one out remaining in the game. Pagan, 29, was acquired during the offseason to bolster the back-end of the bullpen. With Kirby Yates potentially done for the year and Drew Pomeranz landing on the 10-day IL, it makes the trade look that much more significant.
But Pagan has generally struggled this season. With Tampa last year, the former tenth-round pick of the Mariners collected 20 saves while posting a 2.31 ERA in 66 appearances. Through only 13 appearances in 2020, Pagan has a 6.23 ERA and two saves. It’s odd because opponents are hitting just .200 off him, but he’s made the hits count, as he’s been responsible for nine earned runs and three long balls.
His command hasn’t looked as sharp this year, walking eight batters. For reference, Pagan allowed just 13 walks all of last year. Hopefully, Sunday was a turning point in the year, the midway point of the season for the Padres, but Tingler’s status update during the postgame press conference caught me by surprise.
The Padres skipper said that when he spoke with his pitcher, Pagan indicated he was fine, and he’s not dealing with any more pain than he’s been going through.
Any time you hear pitcher and pain from throwing, it draws immediate concern. I’m not sure if Tingler meant any more of the normal wear and tear that the pitcher experiences throughout a season, regardless if it’s only been 30 games.
Pagan has generally been a two-pitch pitcher, featuring a four-seamer and cutter while seldom using his curve and sinker. And according to StatCast, Pagan’s four-seamer averaged out at 96 MPH in 2019. That pitch has been the biggest difference in his success between last year and this, as opponents hit just .146 off his four-seamer, compared to .281 in 2020. He was topping out at 93 MPH on Sunday, so I really hope there is nothing more going on with Pagan.
It’s blatantly obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway. The Padres cannot afford to lose Pagan for an extended period. Let’s see if he can receive some treatment on the off-day today, and hopefully, he is good to pitch this week. But with the trade deadline looming, general manager AJ Preller should probably have a couple of ballclubs on speed dial.
They need to acquire another bullpen arm anyway, but they could be in trouble if they are without both Pagan and Yates. Obviously, the former is a worst-case scenario but hoping for the best.