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Jepsen settles into groove, claims prominent 'pen role

Jepsen settles into groove, claims prominent 'pen role

ANAHEIM -- Kevin Jepsen's career ERA is 7.29 in the months of March, April and May, and 3.17 in June, July, August, September and October.

"I don't know why," the Angels' power reliever said of why he's historically a slow starter. "Even this year, I started throwing early in the offseason to avoid that, because if I get past that first month, it'll be easier to have, numbers-wise, a better season. Obviously, that didn't happen."

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Jepsen gave up five runs on Opening Day, putting his ERA at 67.50 to start the season, then notched 12 consecutive scoreless outings, then gave up three more runs on May 4, elevating his mark to 6.35.

Ever since then, the 29-year-old right-hander has settled into a groove, one that has seemingly earned him the distinction of Mike Scioscia's seventh-inning guy, only below Ernesto Frieri and Joe Smith in the bullpen pecking order.

Heading into Sunday, Jepsen has 12 consecutive scoreless outings once again, giving up only two hits -- both coming Friday -- and four walks while striking out 11 over a nine-inning stretch.

"When you start off the year with a 60-something ERA like I started off with, it makes it a lot easier not to look at it," said Jepsen, who sports a 3.54 ERA and, more importantly, is second on the team with a 1.08 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched).

"You just say, 'All right, I have to battle.' You just look at each outing. 'I'm going to throw a scoreless outing today.' Not think, 'Oh, I've got to throw 15.' You have to, because it's such a long season. You start looking at chunks and things like that, then you don't worry about today."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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