Entering his seventh year in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels, reliever Kevin Jepsen was hoping to finally breakthrough to be a reliable arm in the bullpen; and he has done just that.
His season did not exactly get off on the right foot, as he had a rough first appearance in the season opener against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed five runs on three hits that included a home run and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning that ballooned his ERA to an astronomical 67.50. It was an uphill battle for the 29-year-old from that point on, but he took the challenge head on and has only allowed runs in one of his 27 appearances since the first game of the year.
In fact, he has had an impressive start to the 2014 season outside of two appearances that have kept his ERA above 4.50 for most of the year. It has overshadowed the dominant month of April he had as he posted a 0.00 ERA with four hits allowed and 12 strikeouts in 8.2 innings in 11 appearances. This included having seven hitless appearances and allowing a single hit in each of four other appearances.
He was also an effective pitcher in May after a rough appearance against the Texas Rangers, as he finished the month with nine straight games of hitless relief appearances. His lights out pitching this season has rounded out his overall numbers to a respectable 3.34 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 21.2 total innings of work. Jepsen appears to be a different pitcher this year than in seasons past as he is a more confident player in his ability. It may be the fact that he has added another pitch in the change-up, but all in all his overall level of play surpasses anything he has done in the first six years of his career.
Jepsen has been a source of reliability in the bullpen throughout the first two and a half months of the season. His improvement in 2014 has helped bring some essence of stability to the bullpen that was among the league’s worst in 2013. If he can continue to be the dominant pitcher he has been through his first 28 appearances of the season, he will no doubt become a go-to arm for the Angels’ bullpen as they look to make a playoff push.