KC Royals: 3 key takeaways from the Toronto series

(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Jakob Junis
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Three starters gave the KC Royals reason to believe the rotation is improving.

Remember the starting rotation’s struggles during the first nine games of the season, when only Danny Duffy seemed to know how to avoid trouble? After Brad Keller rid himself of the difficulties he experienced in his first two starts with an impressive win in the Royals’ final game with the Angels Wednesday, Jakob Junis, Ervin Santana and Brady Singer gave notice against Toronto that the rotation may be shaping up.

Junis started Thursday night’s series opener by pitching well for the second straight time. He gave up two runs in five innings, struck out six, walked only one, and gave up just two hits to earn his first win since early September 2019. The effort followed the five shutout, six-strikeout innings he tossed April 7 against Cleveland in his first start of the year. Now 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA (301 ERA+) and 11.3 SO9 in four appearances, Junis may have staked his claim to the fifth spot in the rotation.

Singer’s start in Sunday’s series finale was his second consecutive good outing. After being on the tough-luck losing end in the Royals’ 10-3 loss to the Angels a week ago—the second-year righthander gave up four runs, but only one earned, and struck out six and didn’t walk anyone in five innings—Singer shut out Toronto on two hits and six strikeouts in six innings. Because he departed with the score tied, he didn’t get the win.

Sandwiched between Junis and Singer was Ervin Santana. Called up from the Alternate Training Site last Tuesday, Santana made his first big league start since 2019 in Saturday’s second game and, resembling the Santana of old, gave up only a run in three innings. He retired the first three and last four batters he faced.