Kansas State University

Royals shut down Jakob Junis for final two weeks of the season

The Royals have shut down right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis for the remainder of the season because of his increased workload and fatigue.

Left-hander Eric Skoglund, who most recently pitched out of the bullpen, will take Junis’ s spot in the rotation and start Friday night’s game in Minnesota.

Royals manager Ned Yost raised the possibility of shutting down Junis following his start on Sunday against the Houston Astros. Junis gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings in that start. Skoglund pitched four innings in relief in that game.

Junis finished the season with 9-14 record and a 5.24 ERA, a .276 opponent’s batting average and a 1.43 WHIP in 31 starts (12 quality starts). He pitched 175 1/3 innings, struck out 164 and walked 58.

Junis led the Royals pitching staff in wins, innings, strikeouts and starts through Tuesday’s game. The Royals shut down right-hander Brad Keller at the end of last month for similar reasons. It was Keller’s first full season as a starter.

Unlike Keller, Junis did not exceed his innings from last season. Last season, Junis pitched 177 innings in 30 starts (14 quality starts), though he threw more pitches this season (2,926) than last (2,838).

“Where he’s at in the year, I think it’s just best to go ahead and let him call it a year and continued to stay focused on things that he needs to do to get better, take his game to the next level,” Yost said.

Skoglund has had an abbreviated year because of an 80-game PED suspension to start the season. He’s appeared in four games and made two starts since being recalled from the minors on Aug.23.

He was briefly called up to the majors to provide bullpen depth on Aug. 9, but he did not appear in a game before being optioned to Triple-A Omaha on Aug. 11.

In 2018, Skoglund went 1-6 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) for the Royals.

Skoglund posted a 1.33 ERA, 10 strikeouts, five walks, a 0.79 WHIP and held opposing hitters to .157 batting average in 20 and 1/3 innings in his final five appearances (four starts) of that season.

Skoglund will likely make two more starts before the end of this season.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.