Has Kevin Jepsen Turned The Corner?

By MJ Lloyd

Or maybe I should be asking if Kevin Jepsen has turned the corner again. It sure looked like Jepsen had started to figure things out in the second half of 2009 and much of 2010. Then he threw 13 of the ugliest innings conceivable in 2011 before being banished back to Triple-A in June. Jepsen gave up 11 earned runs on 21 hits and 9 walks over those 13 innings. He’s lucky he wasn’t banished to Siberia.

Bringing heat (Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE)

Jepsen, a second round pick in 2002, suffered a torn labrum early in his career which got him off to a slow start professionally. He also wasn’t exactly the master of control once in the minors either. But with a fastball capable of hitting 99 mph with plenty of movement, it was easy to be bullish on him. He also comes equipped with a cutter that has unfair movement on it. Ugh, that control though.

Jepsen has been good this year. He earned his second save of the season on Sunday after Ernesto Frieri blew one of the most heartbreaking saves the previous night. Although it’s only been 36.2 innings, Jepsen’s 2.21 BB/9 is the lowest of his major or minor league career. The 2.95 ERA and 2.96 FIP (fielding independent pitching) aren’t shabby but he could probably use a bump in his 7.85 K/9. Not that I’m being greedy.

Actually, Jepsen’s numbers are even better if you could toss out the ERA bloating 7 innings from April. He got off to another miserable start giving up 8 earned on 9 hits and a pair of walks. Of course, that earned him June in Salt Lake which I hear is just gorgeous that time of year. Since being recalled on July 5, Jepsen has been impressive despite still being hittable.

In 29.2 innings, Jepsen has given up 22 hits but he’s stranding them only allowing 4 earned runs. It’s the 28 strikeouts to 7 walks that should raise eyebrows. The 2.16 BB/9 and 8.63 K/9 would certainly make for a fine set-up man for Frieri. Let’s face it, the bullpen could use all the help they can get. The Angels lead the American League with 23 blown saves and trail only the Brewers (27) and Rockies (30) in the category.

Jepsen is already 28 years-old so I’m not sure how many more times we can hope he’s finally turned that corner. A 99 mph fastball with movement tends to get you a few extra chances in the bigs though.