The regular season came to a close on Monday afternoon for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The 2015 season ended just as it began, with right-hander Jake Junis on the mound against Myrtle Beach. Unlike Opening Day, the Blue Rocks and Junis were victorious on the final day of the season.
It was a long time coming for Junis to get that elusive fifth win of the season. He had not won since July 17th (or since the birth of his twins). In that timespan, he recorded five losses and three no decisions.
“It was a long time coming for sure,” Junis laughed after the game on Monday. “But it was a good way to end the season. It’s been a long year, starting the first and last game. It’s nice to go out with a win.”
Monday’s start began well, as he struck out Carolina League batting champion Chesny Young (and the Pelicans second baseman) to open the game. He then ended up allowing a run in the first. “It’s not how you want to start the game,” Junis said, “but after going out there the next inning and getting a zero, eased a little bit of the stress. Get another zero, ease a little but more of the stress. Didn’t let it bother me too much.”
Junis pitched a perfect second, issued a two out walk in the third, and then a one out walk in the fourth, before giving up a two-run home run in the fifth.
What worked in this start?
“Just throwing strikes. Getting ahead and pitching to contact. I got a flew fly outs that first inning, besides that swinging bunt and line drive.”
How would Junis rate his season?
“It was better than last year. My numbers were better than last year. I had more innings, more strikeouts, my ERA was better. I’d say it was a positive note to end the season with an outing like that. Hopefully next year, improve a little bit more and just build on this season.”
Overall in 2015, Junis was just 5-11, but had a 3.64 ERA in 26 starts. Over 155.2 innings, he allowed 145 hits (a .251 average), 11 home runs, walked just 29, and struck out 123.
With Lexington in 2014, he had a 4.30 ERA in 26 games (22 starts). In 136 innings, Junis allowed 152 hits (a .262 average), 16 homers, walked 38, and struck out 109.
If Monday’s start was indeed the last this season for Junis, was it a good way to end it?
“Yeah, any time you get a win on the last game of the year, especially with us going to the playoffs, it’s definitely a good note to end on. Try to keep that winning streak going and win this first series and get to the championship round.”
As much as I do not like the decision to pitch Junis on Monday because he will be unavailable for the Carolina League Northern Division Series against Lynchburg (and he earned a start in one of the first two games), he would line up to start Game 1 (and possibly Game 5) in the Championship Series. Hopefully he gets that chance.
“[I am] definitely [excited about the playoffs]. It’s a privilege to get into the playoffs. I think I’ve been on three teams that made it to the playoffs. One of the teams, we won it [with Idaho Falls in 2013]. The year before that [Burlington in 2012], we went to the championship, but lost in the last game. It’s definitely a privilege to keep playing and you’re obviously doing something right if you make it to the playoffs. We’re excited.”