By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay
The professional baseball career of former New Braunfels High School pitcher James McArthur has taken a few unexpected twists and turns over the past four months. He has been traded and he has been hit hard. He’s bounced back and forth from the minor leagues to the majors.
Adversity? Coming off elbow troubles last year, McArthur has seen his share of it, for sure. But that was then, and this is now. And right now, he apparently has packed away all his troubles, setting the stage for a strong finish as a Kansas City Royals rookie.
Four months after a trade sent him from the Phillies to the Royals, McArthur clearly has found a groove. He hasn’t allowed an earned run — or even a run, period — in seven appearances out of the Royals’ bullpen this month.
After adding a slider to his repertoire, the 6-foot-7 righthander has thrown one-hit ball over 9 and 2/3 scoreless innings in September.
In his last two appearances, both at home, he earned his first major league win against the Houston Astros last Friday night, followed by his first save against the Cleveland Indians on Monday.
As the Royals beat the Indians 6-4 at Kauffman Stadium, McArthur finished the game — three up three, three down — to earn mention Tuesday morning on the MLB network highlights.
All told, he threw only 17 pitches in retiring Bo Naylor, Myles Straw and Steven Kwan, lowering his WHIP to a microscopic 0.10 for the month. Highlighting the outing, McArthur unleashed a nasty slider to strike out Straw swinging.
Not too bad for a guy who was battling an elbow problem as a Phillies minor leaguer last summer. Eventually, he moved past the sore arm, but the defending National League champions had other plans for him.
In May, the Phillies dealt McArthur for outfielder Junior Morin and cash. The former 12th-round draft pick by the Phillies went to the Royals, who assigned him to Triple-A Omaha.
By the end of June, he got the call to the majors. But in keeping with the crazy summer, his callup was hardly the stuff of Hollywood. Once in the big leagues, he got bombed in his Royals debut on June 28 against the Indians, giving up seven runs in one inning. Two days later, he was sent back to the minors.
Through August, he moved up and came back down to the minors a few more times. On Sept. 1, though, the Royals recalled him again. He’s been stringing zeroes on the scoreboard ever since.
McArthur is the third former New Braunfels High School ball player to reach the major leagues this season. Earlier, Bryce Miller made the Seattle Mariners and Jordan Westburg was called up to the Baltimore Orioles. All three athletes played collegiately in the Southeastern Conference, Miller at Texas A&M, Westburg at Mississippi State and McArthur at Ole Miss.