Since returning from the injured list, Emilio Pagan has looked like the elite bullpen arm the Padres acquired in the offseason.
For the second consecutive outing, Tony Gonsolin shut down the Padres lineup, pitching 7.0 innings while fanning two and allowing only four hits. It was a frustrating game for the Friars, especially given how Monday night’s game went. Needless to say, the rubber match on Wednesday will be critical towards closing the gap in the NL West standings.
But one area that has caught my attention is the improvement we’ve seen from Emilio Pagan since returning from the injured list. The Padres acquired Pagan from the Rays this offseason in an effort to bolster the back-end of their bullpen, which looks huge right now given Kirby Yates‘ injury status.
Prior to landing on the IL, something just seemed off. His fastball velocity was down, he was getting knocked around. He just wasn’t the same, dominant reliever that came over from Tampa. And most of the time, he was pitching with his right bicep wrapped. Later we learned that he had been dealing with some bicep inflammation, which landed him on the 10-day IL.
He returned on September 10, pitching an efficient inning – 12 of 16 pitches went for strikes – while fanning two and touching 97 MPH on his fastball.
And on Tuesday, he pitched another solid inning, fanning two more, throwing 14-of-22 pitches for strikes. Pagan lowered his season ERA to 4.76 down from 9.64 on August 3. Slowly, but surely, Pagan is returning to form. He, along with Drew Pomeranz and newly acquired Trevor Rosenthal, are becoming quite the 1-2-3 combination.
His effort on Tuesday can get lost in the Padres lack of offense, but it’s so good to see him returning to form. Let’s see if San Diego can take their first series from the Dodgers this year, keeping the NL West deficit to 1.5 games.