Draft picks taken in the 29th round are long shots at best to ever each the major leagues. It’s even more rare that a player taken that late in the draft becomes a front-line starter. But that’s the path Jakob Junis seems to be on.
Taken in the 2011 draft, Junis has been arguably the most consistent starter for the Kansas City Royals this year. Granted, the just-turned-25-year-old hasn’t spent an entire campaign with the big league club. If he had, he likely would have experienced the ups and downs of a full season.
Junis excelled in most of his 14 starts. The rookie currently sports a sparkling 8-2 record with a 4.05 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He has 71 strikeouts in 86 1/3 innings—one of the main areas in which he can improve in 2018.
Junis has only gotten better as the season has progressed. He has yet to lose a decision since June. In that time span, he is 6-0 in 10 appearances (eight starts). His ERA and WHIP over the past three months are down to 3.04 and 1.05, respectively.
Fans have undoubtedly pictured a starting rotation anchored by Danny Duffy and Junis. Not a bad lefty-righty one-two punch. If the Kansas City Royals actually made the AL Wild Card Game, some fans would have clamored for Junis to start the winner-take-all contest.
Regardless, Junis is one of the bright spots that fans can hang their hat on entering an offseason full of question marks.