The Los Angeles Angels have struggled to find any consistency this season from their bullpen, but one reliever who has been that and more for them in 2014 has been Kevin Jepsen.
Entering his seventh year in the majors with the Angels, Jepsen had a career 4.73 ERA and did not have it below 3.00 in any season. That was until this year, as he has a 2.19 ERA with 45 strikeouts, and a team-leading 10 holds in 43 games played. His turnaround has been remarkable, as he has a sub-1.00 ERA in two of the first three months of this season. It doesn’t appear that his dominance will be ending any time soon, as he has allowed just one run since May 4, which is a span of 25.2 innings in a total of 29 appearances.
He has turned it up another notch in July, as he has a 0.00 ERA and four holds, and six strikeouts in five innings pitched in five games played. Jepsen’s reliability has played a huge part in providing some sort of stability in their bullpen, which ranks 25th in ERA (3.99), fifth in most home runs allowed (29), and seventh most in walks (114). The 29 year old has been stalwart for the Angels in many regards, as he leads the team’s bullpen in appearances, strikeouts and BAA (.173).
Jepsen’s improvement this season could not come at a better time with so much influx in the bullpen that required Los Angeles to make three separate trades to try and provide more stability to their glaring area of weakness. His high level of play has put him into a go-to role for the team as the primary reliever who comes in for the starter, which is a crucial transition point from the starting rotation to the bullpen. The right-hander has made that turnover a smoother one with his dominance in the spot, and in turn has given the Halos a set group of late-game relievers with rookie Mike Morin, recently acquired pitchers Joe Thatcher and Jason Grilli, and new full-time closer Joe Smith.
If Jepsen can continue to be an effective pitcher out of the bullpen in the second half of the season, he has the potential to continue be an impactful arm in the the Angels’ playoff push.