ST. PETERSBURG — Emilio Pagán is on his third club in as many years, and this week he gets to welcome former Oakland teammates to his newest home in Tampa Bay.
Pagán is off to a scorching start with the Rays, posting a 0.82 ERA over 22 innings of work. The hard-throwing right-hander has surrendered only 12 hits and five walks to opposing hitters this season. Pagán attributes his success with the Rays to pitching in good matchups against opposing hitters.
“The communication here is really good,” Pagán said. “They kind of let us know what to expect going into a series, who we’re going to face and what spots in the lineup to be ready for.”
The 28-year-old reliever made his first appearance in the show with the Seattle Mariners, a franchise based on the opposite coast of his Simpsonville, S.C., hometown. Pagán debuted to the tune of a 3.22 ERA with the Mariners in 2017. He was traded to Oakland that November.
Pagán regressed in 2018 to post a 4.35 ERA over 62 innings with the Athletics. Oakland lost to the Yankees in the American League wild card game, ending Pagán’s run with the club. That December, the Athletics sent him to the Rays as part of a three-team trade that saw a trio of minor leaguers leave the Tampa Bay organization.
Athletics manager Bob Melvin said that he is happy to see Pagán succeed with the Rays. He also noted that he doesn’t want to see his former player take the hill against his current team.
“He’s pitching with a lot of confidence, and when you have a 97 mile-an-hour fastball you should have some confidence,” Melvin said. “(The Rays) put him in the right spots and he’s having really, really good success.”
Pagán did not make an appearance Monday night against Oakland, but he expects to be ready if his number is called against the Athletics. Pagán said that his familiarity with the Oakland hitters will not necessarily help him in this series.
There are no secrets between the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box. Pagán wants to continue to make his pitches and execute, no matter the opponent.
“Everyone knows everybody now,” Pagán said. “I know what those guys do well, and they know what I do well, so it’s a matter of getting into those plus counts and executing when you do.”