The Royals seemingly won’t have a whole lot to offer fantasy owners this season, but we might be seeing an under-the-radar hurler emerge.
Jake Junis carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Mariners on Monday before it was broken up with one out in the frame on a Daniel Vogelbach infield single. The young right-hander promptly retired the next two batters to finish off seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball.
The brilliant outing versus Seattle came on the heels of another gem that Junis had last week in Detroit when he again spun seven shutout frames. He permitted only three singles in that outing, which means Junis has given up just four singles across 14 shutout innings to begin his season.
Junis offered a hint down the stretch last season that he might take a step forward in 2018, as he posted a 3.61 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 50/9 K/BB ratio across 62 1/3 innings over the final two months. He was also dominant last year during his time at Triple-A Omaha, holding a 2.92 ERA and 86/15 K/BB ratio over 71 innings.
Junis doesn’t boast eye-popping velocity with a fastball that sits in the low-90s. What he does feature is a nasty slider that he can throw in any count and throw for strikes. Junis has also displayed elite control consistently in the minors and so far in the majors.
The ceiling for the 25-year-old might not be super high with his strikeout rate likely to be less than ideal. He’s clearly got an idea on the mound, though, and his confidence is no doubt soaring. As I type this, Junis remains unowned in nearly half of Yahoo leagues. Something tells me that if you want to scoop him up off the waiver wire, you’d better hurry.
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Coming up Aces
Monday night was a good night for reigning Cy Young winners.
First there was Corey Kluber. “Klubot” befuddled the overmatched Tigers for eight shutout innings Monday, yielding just two singles and a walk while notching 13 strikeouts. No Tiger ever reached second base against the stud right-hander.
The reigning American League Cy Young winner is off to a fine start as he seeks to capture his third Cy Young award. Kluber has put up a microscopic 1.57 ERA and 0.65 WHIP through his first three outings while boasting a 27/4 K/BB ratio over 23 innings.
Since returning from the disabled list last June after missing a month with a back injury, Kluber has posted a 1.62 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 251/27 K/BB ratio across 189 1/3 innings over 26 starts. Remarkable.
Then there’s reigning National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who put up a similarly dominant effort in shutting down the Braves. Scherzer spun his first shutout in three seasons, limiting the Braves to just two singles on the night.
“Mad Max” didn’t walk anyone and piled up 10 strikeouts, coming just short of a “Maddux” with 102 pitches thrown in his gem. He even stole a base! Scherzer became just the second player in major league history (Nolan Ryan was the other) to pitch a shutout, strike out 10+ batters and steal a base in the same game.
As is the case with Kluber, Scherzer’s early results show a guy ready to take a third straight and fourth overall Cy Young award. The Nationals ace holds a 0.90 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 27/3 K/BB ratio over his first 20 frames.
Bad News for Bogaerts
It’s difficult for the wind to be taken out of the sails of a team that’s won eight straight games, but one way to do it is for their hottest hitter to go on the disabled list.
The Red Sox completed a huge eighth-inning comeback against the Rays on Sunday, but they lost shortstop Xander Bogaerts to injury in the process. Bogaerts hurt his left ankle in the seventh inning when he slid into the Tampa Bay dugout while chasing down an errant throw. Boston revealed Monday that an X-ray and MRI revealed a small fracture of the talus bone in Bogaerts’ left ankle and he’s been placed on the 10-day DL.
Any kind of fracture isn’t good news, obviously, but as far as a broken bone goes this one is about as minor as it gets. It’s non-displaced and will not require surgery. Assuming all goes well, Bogaerts could be back in the Red Sox’ lineup in 10-14 days.
Still, the timing of this stinks. Bogaerts was off to a marvelous start, sporting a .368/.400/.711 batting line with two home runs and nine RBI through his first nine games. His seven doubles lead all of baseball. The start was especially encouraging after the 25-year-old batted just .228/.317/.342 over the final three months last season while battling through a hand injury.
The Red Sox will recall Tzu-Wei Lin from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Bogaerts’ spot on the roster. Lin is a defensive-minded player who could see some starts at shortstop. Brock Holt figures to see the biggest uptick in playing time with Bogaerts out, though, whether he just slides in at shortstop or plays second base and Eduardo Nunez moves over to the other side of the bag. Holt is hitless in the early going this season but is worth a look in AL-only formats.
American League Quick Hits: Rougned Odor is expected to be placed on the disabled list after aggravating a left hamstring injury on Monday … Justin Verlander struck out nine batters over seven shutout innings Monday as the Astros blanked the Twins … Josh Donaldson hit a grand slam Monday as part of the Blue Jays' win over the Orioles … J.A. Happ pitched six innings of one-run ball and struck out nine in a win over the Orioles on Monday … Dylan Bundy pitched seven innings of two-run ball and struck out 10 on Monday versus the Blue Jays … Mike Moustakas went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in the Royals' rout of the Mariners on Monday … Kendrys Morales left Monday’s game with a strained hamstring but is expected to avoid the DL … Mallex Smith went 4-for-4 at the plate and stole a pair of bases in Monday's win over the White Sox … Doctors have recommended that J.C. Ramirez undergo Tommy John surgery … Ryon Healy was placed on the DL Monday and underwent an MRI and saw specialist Dr. Edward Khalfayan to determine the extent of his right ankle injury … Salvador Perez (knee) is expected to return closer to the front end of his projected 4-6 week timetable … Alex Cobb will make his Orioles debut on Saturday in Boston …
National League Quick Hits: Anthony Rizzo (back) is expected to be placed on the disabled list but could be activated when first eligible on April 16 … Jose Martinez has been diagnosed with a right Achilles contusion following a collision with the Brewers’ Lorenzo Cain on Monday. Cain suffered a minor quad injury on the play but could return to action Tuesday … Zack Godley pitched seven shutout innings and struck out nine Giants hitters in a victory Monday … Scott Kingery hit his first major league homer Monday against the Reds … The slumping Ryan Zimmerman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Monday and is batting just .097/.176/.194 so far this season … Scott Schebler landed on the 10-day disabled list Monday with a right ulnar nerve contusion … Matt Albers blew a save but got the win Monday night against the Cardinals … Greg Holland walked four of the five batters he faced in his Cardinals debut Monday night against the Brewers … Victor Robles injured his left elbow on a diving catch attempt during Triple-A Syracuse’s game Monday … Tyler Beede will be recalled to make his major league debut on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks …