It’s wild to think that Emilio Pagan was being considered as one of the favorites to be the San Diego Padres closer in Spring Training based on what we saw from him at the end of the 2021 season. But it’s true.
“I definitely want a shot at that role, but we’ve got four guys that have done it before and probably four or five more that have the ability to do it,” Pagan said in Spring Training in regards to potentially earning the closer role.
Pagan, unfortunately, didn’t even show the ability to be counted on in high leverage situations just months after making that statement. The 30-year-old finished his second season in the brown and gold with a 4.83 ERA and -0.4 WAR.
He started off the season pretty well, as opponents didn’t hit better than .257 in the first five months of the season off of him. There were some very good hitters struggling to make contact, such as Joey Votto:
However, in September and October, it’s like he forgot how to get batters out (I know that’s easy to say watching from the couch). The former Ray reliever owned a 14.00 ERA in his final eleven appearances, including five in which he surrendered two or more runs.
The outing we all remember is when he gave up the lead in the eighth inning in St. Louis in a game it felt like the Padres needed to win. Instead, Tyler O’Neill took Pagan deep and the Padres ended up getting swept—essentially ending their playoff hopes.
Pagan was solid for a majority of the season so expect the Padres to tender him a contract in arbitration but if he struggles at the beginning of next year, he might not be pitching in very many high leverage situations any longer. Let’s hope we don’t have to get to that point.