Pagan was optioned to the minors following Saturday's game against the Twins, but the reliever will return to the 25-man roster less than 24 hours later following Sean Manaea's (shoulder) surprising placement on the disabled list. The right-hander will likely settle back into a middle-relief role for the Athletics after compiling a 3.71 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in his first 45 appearances of the season for the big club.
Pagan was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Saturday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Pagan, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 19, was sent to the minors to free up a roster spot for Sunday's starter, Chris Bassitt, who is set to be promoted from the Sounds in a corresponding move. In his last appearance, Pagan surrendered a trio of solo homers across three innings, raising his ERA from 3.40 to 3.71. He should be back with the A's sometime in early September after rosters expand.
Pagan owns a 2.35 ERA, .207 BAA and 14:3 K:BB across 7.2 innings over eight June appearances.
The right-handed reliever has been mowing down opposing hitters at an impressive clip, as he sports a 42.4 percent strikeout rate during that stretch. Pagan had hit a rough patch prior to a late April demotion to Triple-A Nashville, but he's bounced back to generate scoreless efforts in 10 of 11 appearances since returning to the Athletics on May 18. However, his lack of hold or save opportunities does cap his fantasy utility to an extent, and his 1.37 WHIP also has room for improvement.
Pagan fired two perfect innings in a loss to the Rays on Tuesday, recording four strikeouts.
Pagan has been a different pitcher since returning to the big-league club after a stint at Triple-A Nashville, now having fired 6.1 scoreless innings during which he's only allowed a pair of singles and recorded seven strikeouts. The 27-year-old right-hander has already lowered his ERA more than a full run (5.17 to 4.05) during that stretch, a stark departure from the seven earned runs he'd allowed over his last six appearances before being demoted May 2.
Pagan, who notched his first win of the season Saturday against the Blue Jays in his initial appearance since returning from Triple-A Nashville, used his fastball a season-high 86.2 percent of the time in that outing, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "I've got to stick with what I do and believe that it will work out for the best more often than not: Throwing the fastball up in the zone, the slider off that, working in the split whenever I get a chance, whenever it's a good situation for it," Pagan said.
The right-hander's velocity was also up slightly to the 95-96 mph range during the appearance, according to pitching coach Scott Emerson, which he emphasized can make a notable difference with a "mistake pitch" such as that one. Pagan had struggled while relying less on his power pitch and more on his slider before being demoted May 2, giving up seven earned runs on 13 hits over his last six appearances. Manager Bob Melvin saw Pagan's effort Saturday as a reflection of what his reliever is capable of when he pitches to his strengths. "It just seemed like he was confident," Melvin said. "Things like that don't show up, but those two innings we got from him kept us where we could have the potential comeback. He has it in him. It probably was good for him to go down and work on his strengths."
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