Reliever wanted to be in the big leagues before the birth of his first child. He achieved that goal and has been effective, with a 3.40 ERA in 29 games so far as a rookie.
It would be hard to find anyone on the Mariners happier than Emilio Pagan.
The right-handed reliever, who was not even in big-league camp during spring training, has emerged as perhaps the team’s biggest surprise, putting up outstanding numbers.
But for Pagan, everything that has happened the past couple of months has just been a bonus.
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That’s because he had already achieved something that was much bigger to him.
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“To be honest, I really only had one goal this season,” Pagan said. “My wife and I were expecting our first child, and I wanted to be up in the big leagues before she was born, and it happened. That was the only goal I had, and I reached it, so I’m happy with it.”
Pagan made his major-league debut May 3. Daughter Paxtyn, pronounced like the last name of Mariners pitcher James Paxton, was born June 14.
“When we came up with the name, I wasn’t even sure if I was ever going to be pitching for the Mariners, so I didn’t see anything wrong with it. But now guys give me a hard time about it, like, ‘Paxton’s your favorite player.’ Oh, well. It worked out.”
Just like his pitching has this season. Pagan is 1-3 with a 3.40 earned-run average in 45 innings over 29 games with the Mariners. He has an outstanding WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 0.96, the lowest for any player on the team who has pitched at least six innings.
“He really has taken advantage of his opportunity,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “He’s throwing the ball well. We didn’t see him a ton in spring training because he was with Puerto Rico (in the World Baseball Classic), but we saw him a little bit the spring training before. He kind of caught our eye at that point.
“He’s changed his pitching style a little bit. He’s much more aggressive, throwing a few more fastballs than he used to, and his fastball’s been really good. He’s carving a nice little niche for himself here with our team, which is great. We needed guys to step up, and he’s taken advantage of the opportunity.”
Still, the season has had its ups and downs for Pagan. Literally. He was back and forth several times between Tacoma and Seattle…