The Royals announced that Jakob Junis will make the start on Wednesday, with Brad Keller bumped to the Thursday game against Chicago. Junis has tossed a pair of shutout innings in two relief appearances against Texas so far this season, striking out three of the eight batters he faced. He last worked on Sunday, which would give him just two days off before his start, so you can expect him to be on a pitch count against the Indians.
Junis had made 83 starts for the Royals in the last four seasons with a 4.76 ERA, but struggled last year with a 6.39 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. The 28-year old may have been affected by a late arrival to camp due to a positive COVID-19 test. He worked with his brother in the off-season to develop a cutter and had good results in spring training with ten strikeouts and no walks, allowing just two hits in seven spring training innings.
Jake Junis debuted his brand new cutter in yesterdays outing (1 IP 1 H 2 K), showcasing the third pitch that plays well off his already really good slider (FB/CT) @RoyalsFarm pic.twitter.com/zEfBZjF849— Colton Lovelace (@colton_lovelac) April 4, 2021
The start could give Junis a platform to make his case for sticking in the rotation. The Royals were not planning on having a fifth starter until mid-April due to all the off days. But Brad Keller left his Opening Day start after giving up six runs in just over an inning of work and 51 pitches, and had his start this week bumped back one day. Kris Bubic is also a candidate to be the fifth starter, and began the season at the Alternate Site, but is eligible to return to the active roster by next week. The Royals have another off day on Friday before playing 12 games in the next 12 days.
The Royals have struggled to get consistent starting pitching, with their starters putting up an 8.10 ERA in four games, fourth-worst in baseball, and that includes the impressive six shutout innings by Danny Duffy against Cleveland on Monday.