KC Royals: Jackson Kowar promoted, starts tonight

It’s been just over a week since the Internet exploded with speculation that the KC Royals were about to call up hot Triple-A pitcher Jackson Kowar to start against Minnesota last Saturday. There turned out to be nothing to the rumblings and rumors, and Kowar instead started last Friday for Omaha and, true to 2021 form, pitched five scoreless innings against Indianapolis to earn his fifth victory of the season.

But now, a week later, there are no rumors circulating about the Royals promoting Kowar.

This time, it’s a fact.

Kowar, the Kansas City organization’s No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is definitely headed for the major leagues. KC manager Mike Matheny disclosed during his postgame Zoom Sunday that Kowar is at last joining the big club, and he’ll start Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels in California.

Kowar’s promotion has, of course, been much anticipated and is well-deserved. He’s 5-0 this season in six starts for the Storm Chasers, and his 0.85 ERA reflects the fact he’s surrendered only three runs in 31.2 innings. Opposing hitters are batting a paltry .063 against him, and he owns a stingy 0.40 WHIP.

He’s also struck out 41 in those 31.2 frames, giving him an excellent 11.7 SO9. And he’s averaging less than three walks per nine innings pitched.

Kowar’s promotion requires the KC Royals to make two other roster moves.

To make room for Kowar on the 26-man active roster, Matheny said in his Zoom the Royals will send down pitcher Jakob Junis, who started for three straight years for the club until splitting time between the rotation and bullpen this season. The move isn’t surprising considering Junis’ 2021 inconsistency—he’s 2-3 with a 5.19 ERA across five starts and 10 relief appearances.

And because Kowar isn’t a member (yet) of the club’s 40-man roster, Kansas City must remove one player from it to accommodate Kowar. Wade Davis, the former star KC closer struggling to recharge his career with the Royals this season, is a likely candidate for a DFA.

Matheny’s announcement of Kowar’s promotion, and Junis’ demotion, came after four other moves the KC Royals made Sunday—they recalled outfielder Edward Olivares, activated reliever Josh Staumont, placed Adalberto Mondesi on the Injured List, and sent pitcher Tyler Zuber to Omaha.

First pitch for Monday night’s West Coast game that will mark Kowar’s big league debut is set for 8:38 CDT. Kowar will face Los Angeles righthander Dylan Bundy, who’s 0-6, 6.49 for the Angels so far this season.

Kansas City fans have been eager to see Jackson Kowar pitch in the big leagues. They’ll get their chance Monday night.