Angels setup man Kevin Jepsen says demotion to Triple-A is “difficult to swallow”

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Kevin Jepsen has been one of the Angels’ primary setup men since 2009 and posted a 3.97 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 59 innings last season, so he was understandably caught off guard when they demoted him to Triple-A yesterday:

You think? Yeah, it caught me by surprise. This is always difficult to swallow.

Mike Scioscia talked about Jepsen “getting back to basics, throwing his good, live fastball with command,” but in reality his having a minor-league option remaining likely played a bigger factor in his demotion than allowing three runs in four innings to begin the year.

After all, as Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times points out Jason Bulger has walked eight batters in five innings without anywhere near Jepsen’s track record of success and he remains in the Angels’ bullpen because they can’t send him to Triple-A without clearing waivers first.

Michael Kohn, who had a ton of sucess after debuting in July last season, joins Jepsen in heading to Triple-A, as the Angels created one roster spot for 21-year-old Tyler Chatwood sliding into the rotation and another for veteran reliever Scott Downs coming off the disabled list.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.