ANAHEIM -- It took four months longer than they expected, but Kevin Jepsen seems to have worked himself into the role the Angels envisioned coming out of Spring Training.
Jepsen gave up nine earned runs in seven innings during his first nine appearances of the season, leading to a Minor League demotion in early May. Since rejoining the team in early July, though, the 27-year-old right-hander has hurled 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out seven.
Now, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is using Jepsen -- and his upper-90s fastball -- as his main bridge to the dynamic 1-2 punch of Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri.
"Putting Kevin back into that mix definitely gives you two power right-handed arms that you can sandwich around Scotty Downs," Scioscia said. "That's a good place to be when you're matching up like we are right now."
Jepsen, fully recovered from knee issues that derailed him in 2011, looked sharp in Spring Training, prompting the Angels to believe he was back to being the guy who posted a 3.97 ERA and 9.3 strikeout-per-nine ratio as a key bullpen cog in 2010.
What's he doing now that he wasn't at the beginning of the season?
"Just commanding the baseball better," Scioscia said. "I think his cutter's more consistent, his fastball, obviously, the velocity's there. He's getting in the zone early and making good pitches."