KC Royals: A future in the rotation may be uncertain for Jakob Junis

KC Royals, Jakob Junis (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Jakob Junis (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals will have to spend the offseason deciding how to move forward for the future. For some, a new role may be the best option.

The KC Royals winning streak stopped at six with a 6-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers last night. Nothing seemed to be clicking for the Royals offensively with only 5 hits. They managed some baserunners, but like so many other games this season, they were unable to produce when they had runners on.

Most of the bullpen members were able to do their part in keeping runs from scoring, though there were still a few walks and shaky situations to work around. The biggest struggle of the night, though, came from Jakob Junis.

Junis was not originally scheduled to pitch, but after Danny Duffy missed the team flight to Detroit and had his start taken away, Junis was put on the schedule. The Royals went into the game with plenty of momentum, but it went away quickly when Junis gave up 3 runs in the first inning.

He was responsible for 5 of the Tigers 6 runs, and only pitched 2.1 innings. Unfortunately for Junis, 2020 seems to be a season of struggle. He has seen time on and off the injured roster, and has also seen a sharp increase in his ERA at 6.94.

While he has only pitched in 23.1 innings and only has a small sample size, an increasing ERA and FIP have been a trend since 2017. While the increase has been small in some instances, it still doesn’t bode well for Junis on a KC Royals team that is full of talented young pitchers just waiting for their chance.

Because of this, it’s likely the questions will be raised about what is to be done with Jakob Junis once the 2020 season is over. He is arbitration eligible in 2021 and it’s likely the Royals will want to spend some more time with him.

Junis has been a decent, back of the rotation innings eater for the Royals over the past few seasons. He started 30 and 31 games in back to back seasons and while he saw an increase in ERA and FIP in 2018, he has still provided decent outings on a team where pitching was typically an issue.

For Junis, though, his time in the rotation may be coming to a close. It would not be out of the question for the Royals to give him some time in spring training to show that he can continue to make good starts. He is low risk to keep around and when he is on, he can put together a good outing.

Time may be better spent, though, preparing Junis for a new role in the bullpen. Junis has the right stuff, but going deep into games is not always something that is a strong point. This sets him up perfectly for a turn around in the bullpen.

The Royals bullpen has found success this year and other than some inconsistencies with young and inexperienced players, it has been one of the bright spots. Moving Junis to the bullpen could provide the Royals with a reliable long reliever, and also add an extra veteran type presence into the mix.

Junis’s major league experience comes mainly from starting, but his knowledge of major league hitters and games would be valuable to the young arms starting to come up through the system.

One can’t be sure exactly how the Royals will choose to handle Junis going forward, but his continued struggles in the rotation are an obvious issue. With young arms starting to come up to the majors, look for changes in the rotation and a possibility for Junis to find a new role.

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Jakob Junis continues to struggle through the 2020 season. While he will likely stick around Kansas City for a little while longer, he may have to adapt to a new role in 2021.