Royals’ Ned Yost still considering shutting down Jakob Junis

Unless something changes Ned Yost’s mind, it appears Royals starting pitcher Jakob Junis has made his last start of the season.

Yost raised the idea of shutting down Junis for the rest of the season due to his workload and mounting innings total following Sunday’s game against the Houston Astros. Yost still hasn’t announced a final decision, but he sounded as though he’d come close to a decision prior to Monday’s game on the road against the Oakland Athletics.

“It’s based on the fact that, for me, he’s amassed around 177 innings, he’s struggling to command the ball, it’s kind of like Keller a little bit — he’s starting to battle the innings that have piled up on him,” Yost said of his pending decision. “It’s not arm fatigue as much as it’s just adding up on him.”

Junis (9-14) has thrown a team-high 175 1/3 innings this season in 31 starts. Last season, Junis pitched 177 innings in 30 starts, though he has thrown more pitches this season (2,926) than last (2,838).

Yost made the decision last month to shut down right-hander Brad Keller because of fatigue and a career high in innings pitched.

“When I look at Keller, it’s the same thing as Junis. I don’t see any positives going forward,” Yost said. “He struggled his last couple times out. He’s struggling to command his pitches, which means that he’s starting to fatigue a little bit.”

A badly missed location led to a home run by Astros hitter Yuli Gurriel off of Junis in Sunday’s game. With likely two more turns in the pitching rotation left this season, Yost could easily make the case that left-hander Eric Skoglund would benefit from those outings more than Junis.

Skoglund’s season has been abbreviated due to an 80-game suspension he served to start the season for a failed PED test.

“If I still felt like he was really on top of his game, I wouldn’t consider it, but I feel like he’s starting to fatigue out a little bit,” Yost said.

The Royals have not listed a starting pitcher for Friday’s game in Minnesota.

Familiar faces

The Royals made two trades with the Oakland Athletics earlier this season and sent starting pitcher Homer Bailey and left-handed reliever Jake Diekman to Oakland in exchange for minor leaguers.

Bailey, who will start against the Royals on Wednesday afternoon, has gone 6-2 with a 4.70 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 11 starts since joining Oakland. He’d gone 7-6 with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.

Diekman has posted a 5.40 ERA out of the bullpen with a .207 batting average against and a 1.50 WHIP. While with the Royals, Diekman had a 4.75 ERA, .212 batting average against and a 1.34 WHIP.

Royals extend partnership with 610

The Royals and Entercom announced on Monday that they’d signed a five-year extension to broadcast the Royals on 610 Sports Radio (KCSP-AM) through the 2024 season. Royals games have been broadcast via 610 AM in Kansas City since 2008.

All 162 regular season games and all postseason games will be carried on 610 AM. Cactus League spring training games from Arizona will also be broadcast. Weeknight and weekend games will be on 610 Sports Radio, while select weekday afternoon games will air on 1660 The Score (KWOD-AM).

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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.