Back to old self, Jepsen keeping things simple
TEMPE, Ariz. -- There was a point last season, while looking to rebound in Triple-A after a rough start in the Majors, when Kevin Jepsen believes he "stopped trying to be someone else."
Heading into the 2011 season, on the heels of a year in which he posted a 3.97 ERA as a reliable member of the Angels' bullpen, Jepsen lost almost 30 pounds, believing it would make him more agile on the mound. All it led to was weakened legs and season-ending knee surgery.
Heading into 2012, while trying to simply get a feel for pitching again, Jepsen toyed with adding a two-seamer to an arsenal that was already three pitches deep. It led to losing command of his four-seamer, cutter and curveball, then posting a 10.29 ERA in April before being optioned to the Minor Leagues.
Then, at last, he just decided to keep it simple.
"Everything outside that happens before you get on the mound during the game, as far as working to refine mechanics, throw that out. Working to come up with a fourth pitch, throw that out," Jepsen said. "Taking my pitches, taking my mechanics, the way I throw, just do that every time, so I know what I'm going out with every time."
Jepsen returned to the Angels with that clean mindset in July, and immediately showed why there was never a need to tinker.
From July 5 on, the 28-year-old right-hander led the Angels in holds (16) while posting a 1.67 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .278 on-base percentage. Now, he's part of the reason -- along with the additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett, plus the returns of Ernesto Frieri and Scott Downs -- why the Angels feel their bullpen should be a strength in 2013.
Jepsen reported to camp this year at his normal weight (245, as opposed to the 218 he weighed in at two springs ago). He ended his pursuits of that fourth pitch, and he stopped worrying so much about his mechanics.
Mostly, he embraced himself.
"I didn't change my mechanics at all in the offseason," Jepsen said. "No more developing pitches, either. I have three pitches, and that's plenty for a guy coming out of the 'pen. I was just able to repeat my delivery. Right now, I felt like even up to this point before games, where I've thrown only bullpens, this is the best I've been throwing bullpens, because I don't feel off at all. I feel like I picked up where I was at last year."