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Fuentes, Jepsen could share ninth inning

Fuentes, Jepsen could share ninth inning

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NEW YORK -- Brian Fuentes' two-out save on Sunday might be more of a common occurrence for the Halos down the stretch, as manager Mike Scioscia didn't dismiss the possibility of using reliever Kevin Jepsen in certain situations to open the ninth inning.

"Both guys have been an important part of the back end of the bullpen," Scioscia said prior to the Angels' makeup game at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. "But if there are some matches that could be advantageous [to use Jepsen], we will try to take advantage of [them]."

It's no secret that Fuentes has struggled at times in the closer's role, as the four-time All-Star entered Monday with a 5.40 ERA in seven outings over five innings in September. In his past eight appearances, he has tossed a whole inning just three times, often giving way to Jepsen. The veteran lefty has been replaced in the middle of a save situation by Jepsen four times in the past month and a half, most recently handing off the ball in Saturday's extra-innings loss. Fuentes allowed back-to-back hits to open the 10th inning before he was replaced by Jepsen, whose wild pitch gave Chicago the win.

Jepsen, who made his first Opening Day roster with the Angels this spring, is a hard-throwing righty who has a 1.36 ERA in 33 innings since July 1. He is a perfect 14-for-14 in hold opportunities and has stranded 24 of 31 inherited runners.

According to The Orange County Register, Fuentes and Scioscia had a closed-door meeting for 25 minutes prior to Sunday's game, with Scioscia telling the paper that the discussion was about the veteran's mechanics.

Though Fuentes told the Register that the talk was not about mechanics, he has no problem with Jepsen being used to relieve him.

"That's Mike's decision. They just pick up the phone and tell me when I'm going in," Fuentes told the paper. "I just pretty much do what I'm told."

Scioscia, who has previously expressed his faith in Fuentes, reiterated on Monday that he will go to Jepsen if the right-hander poses a better matchup.

"If Kevin's still fresh and has the ability to start an inning, we will consider it, as we have [for] a couple of innings this year," Scioscia said.

"There's a lot of things to look at, but it's something we've considered before and will continue to look at."

Fuentes signed a two-year deal with the Angels in the offseason and is 41-for-47 in save chances.

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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