The Royals have decided to shut down right-hander Jakob Junis for the remainder of the season, skipper Ned Yost told reporters including Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). He’ll be replaced in the rotation by Eric Skoglund.
It seems the club did not want to extend the workload for Junis, who has taken 31 starts and thrown 175 1/3 innings. That’s actually 1 2/3 frames shy of his 2018 tally, but there were some signs that Junis was tiring. His velocity was headed south (though only slightly) and he had allowed four or more earned runs in each of his past five starts.
This decision puts the wraps on a somewhat disappointing season for Junis, who recently turned 27. He owns a 5.24 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9. That’s nearly a run per nine worse than his earned run average over the prior two campaigns.
In some respects, the down year was really just a way for the baseball gods to even things out over a larger sample. Junis now owns a lifetime 4.69 ERA that’s an exact match for his career 4.69 FIP. Metrics such as xFIP (4.47) and SIERA (4.64) generally concur. While his K/BB ratio is decent enough, Junis has consistently given up too many long balls (1.56 per nine, 15.4% HR/FB rate for his career).
Junis will remain shy of arbitration next year, so he’s still an easy and affordable choice to plug back into the rotation. If the Royals can help him solve the long ball issue, there may yet be a path to improved results.
In the meantime, Skoglund will get a brief look. The tall lefty struggled in a half-season showcase last year and has been shelled in 14 innings in the majors in 2019. The former third-rounder was also knocked around this year in the upper minors, so it’s possible he’ll be a roster casualty in the offseason.