Padres: Emilio Pagan remains an important part of bullpen

Emilio Pagan was up-and-down last season but remains important to the San Diego Padres.

In a previous post, we profiled Pierce Johnson and how he has become an important part of the San Diego Padres‘ bullpen. Next, we’ll take a look at Emilio Pagan, who had an up-and-down season but finished strongly and will continue to also be an important part of the San Diego bullpen.

Pagan, 29, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the tenth round of the 2013 amateur draft. He made his way through the Mariners’ minor league system and was solid for the big league club as a rookie in 2017, posting a 3.22 ERA in 50 1/3 innings.

However, this figures to be the first year that Pagan spends more than one season with a big league club. He was traded to the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2018 season, then to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019, where he closed for the team, earning 20 saves while posting a 2.31 ERA. The Padres then acquired him prior to 2020 in the trade that sent Manuel Margot to Tampa Bay.

The move to acquire Pagan figured to enhance the bullpen, but it didn’t work out that way in the beginning. Through August 20, Pagan blew four saves and had an ERA of 7.36. Pagan’s fastball was only topping out at 93 MPH after it was averaging over 95 MPH in 2019. He eventually went on the injured list with right biceps inflammation.

Pagan was a totally different reliever between August 21 and the rest of the season. He was not scored on in 10 of his final 11 appearances and only gave up two runs total, good for a 1.64 ERA. His fastball, which hadn’t topped 96 MPH all year, at one point was hitting 97 MPH towards the end of the season.

Overall, walks were way up and strikeouts were way down during the 2020 season for Pagan. Yet because of his strong finish to the season, there’s reason to believe that Pagan can go back to being a strong bullpen force in 2021. Let’s hope he can build on that strong finish and keep the momentum going.