At 94 mph, Kevin Jepsen’s fastball is still a weapon. But it turned on him this year.
As a result, the Twins’ late-season closer from 2015, the righthander they expected to step in again this spring when Glen Perkins was injured, is not longer a Twin. Jepsen, 31, was designated for assignment this morning, the first step toward restoring Trevor May to the roster.
May isn’t active yet, however, though he is at Target Field and eager to pitch again. The Twins will wait a day or two, since the righthander pitched Friday and Saturday at Class AAA Rochester, the finish to his rehab stint from back spasms that sent him to the disabled list June 10.
Instead, the Twins have called up outfielder Eddie Rosario, who was summoned yesterday once Eduardo Escobar was hobbled by a hamstring strain. Escobar tested his leg this morning, and he is technically available for today’s game, but he seems likely to be sidelined with a DL stint tomorrow. If not, the Twins will have to make another move; it’s possible Rosario is only here temporarily.
For Jepsen, it’s an abrupt interruption to what must be the most disappointing season of his career. After going 10-for-10 in save situations late last summer, he was rewarded with a $5.3 million salary this season, and the prospect of earning much more in free agency this fall if he kept up that level of success.
Instead, the Twins collapsed, and Jepsen did with them, his fastball becoming far more hittable. He went more than a month between saves at one point, mostly because he went three weeks without an opportunity. But when he did pitch important innings, he wasn’t effective; Jepsen saved seven games, but allowed runs during two of them, and he blew four. He gave up runs in 15 of his 33 appearances, and leaves with a 6.16 ERA that, combined with the salary, makes it unlikely the Twins will find a trade partner. They have 10 days to release him, trade him or expose him to waivers.
Rosario, meanwhile, is back in the lineup today, as is Danny Santana. Robbie Grossman moves to designated hitter for a day, with Joe Mauer getting the day off.
Here are the lineups for today’s game, as the Twins try to win their second straight home series: