Junk's value on display in series-sealing gem

July 27th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- 's third time with the Angels this season was definitely the charm.

Recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake for a spot start, Junk showed the poise of a veteran by rattling off five-plus scoreless innings on Wednesday to boost the Angels to a 4-0 victory over the Royals. In helping his team win back-to-back games for the first time since June 26-27 while recording his first Major League victory, Junk struck out a career-high eight and left no doubt that club officials made the right choice in bringing him back up.

Junk had pitched one scoreless inning in relief on May 28 against Toronto. He was also with the club from June 20-26, but didn’t appear in a game. At the time that the Angels brought Junk to Kansas City, interim manager Phil Nevin pointed to Junk's success at Triple-A as a reason why he was promoted.

But even the most optimistic Angels observers would have had a hard time envisioning that Junk would wade through the Royals' lineup as convincingly as he did.

“He was pounding the strike zone,” Nevin said. “He knows what is effective for him. He threw his slider up in the zone and it has different rise numbers on it. He used it up there and was effective with it. He really pitched well.”

The Angels got all the offense they would need when they grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fifth. An RBI triple by Phil Gosselin and an RBI single by Brandon Marsh off Brad Keller put Junk in position to get the win.

The question now is whether Junk will be rewarded with another start following Wednesday’s effort.

“I can’t say that yet, but it probably lines up that way,” Nevin said. “As of now, he probably deserves another one.”

With recent strong outings by young pitchers such as Reid Detmers, José Suarez and Junk, the Angels are starting to feel positive vibes about their mound prospects moving forward.

“It [the future] is bright,” Nevin said. “With the development we’ve been doing with them, it looks great.”

Nevin used veteran Kurt Suzuki behind the plate in the series finale and Suzuki responded with two hits while helping the young starter along.

“Kurt and I had a good game plan going into it,” Junk said. “Overall, I thought it was a solid day. My two-seam slider gets ride and sweep and that can be a killing combo.”

Junk is cautiously optimistic when looking forward to another potential start after Wednesday’s performance.

“I think I proved it,” Junk said. “We’ll see what happens.”