Pagan's relief saves 'pen, gives confidence

After 2 tough outings to open career, rookie goes 4 scoreless to help out Seattle

Pagan's relief saves 'pen, gives confidence

WASHINGTON -- The cost of having a starting rotation decimated by injuries is the trickle-down effect it can have on the bullpen. This is the reality the Mariners have been living in for the last few weeks, relying on inexperienced arms to give them length and keep the ever-evolving relief corps fresh.

That hasn't always been easy, which is why rookie reliever Emilio Pagan's effort in Tuesday's 10-1 loss to the Nationals stood out to manager Scott Servais. With a lopsided score and starter Christian Bergman lasting just four innings, Pagan -- who was making his third career appearance -- came in to finish the rest of the game.

"I thought Pagan did an unbelievable job in the bullpen coming out giving us four strong innings," Servais said. "Saving some guys here looking forward to tomorrow."

"Four good innings, but the main thing was saving the guys for tomorrow," Pagan said. "That's the biggest thing. The more bullets we save tonight, that we have for tomorrow."

In his previous two outings, Pagan had combined for a blown save and loss as he yielded five earned runs in the first three innings of his big league career. The third appearance proved to be a charm, as he allowed just one hit over four shutout frames against the Nats. While the game was long decided, the effort was a confidence booster for a young arm that needed it.

"It definitely feels good," Pagan said. "I thought I made some pitches [in my previous outing], it just didn't go my way. That's baseball. But to have a good result this time, definitely a good feeling."

The Mariners have been outscored 34-3 over their last three games, and have seen their bullpen pitch a combined 15 1/3 innings, the kind of workload that Servais knows is unsustainable.

So while Pagan's effort in Tuesday's lopsided loss was much-needed, Seattle is hoping to find itself in more competitive games so it is more likely that the relief arms are well-rested and used in more conventional roles.

"We knew we were going to get into this tough stretch here," Servais said. "With the state of our starting pitching in flux and trying to run a lot of inexperienced guys out there, it's gonna happen. We just hopefully get in a [close] ballgame, get into our bullpen and see where it goes from there."

Daniel Shiferaw is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington who covered the Mariners on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.