James McArthur Didn’t Sit Still During The Shutdown

James McArthur’s ascension to the Phillies’ 40-man roster started with work he did at home in Colorado during the minor league hiatus of 2020.

The 25-year-old righthander added strength and mobility to his 6-foot-7 frame by working with the folks at Push Performance, and he “cleaned up” some lower half mechanical issues under the guidance of Phillies pitching strategist Pat Robles.

McArthur came back in 2021 showing a mid-90s fastball, up to 97 mph at times. Not bad for a self-described “late bloomer” who came out of Mississippi as a 12th-round pick in 2018 throwing “in the low 90s, even the 80s in college.”

“The velocity has been a gradual climb,” McArthur said. “The shutdown was huge for me.”

McArthur pitched at High-A Jersey Shore and Double-A Reading in 2021. He had a 4.25 ERA in 78.1 innings, striking out 83 and walking 24. Over his last five starts, he allowed six earned runs while striking out 26 and walking six in 24 innings.

That finish made protecting him from the Rule 5 draft an easy decision.

“We faced a huge risk of losing him,” Phillies general manager Sam Fuld said. “We feel like he could help us win games in the big leagues next year. 

“He’s got a good four-seam fastball and carries his velocity deep into games. He complements it really well with a good curveball, and he’s had success with his changeup. It’s an exciting package. We think it’s three solid pitches that will allow him to be a good productive starter for us.”

At the urging of Double-A pitching coach Brad Bergesen, McArthur began using his secondary pitches behind in counts more in 2021.

“Doing that more, trying to get them off my fastball, I think that has made a huge difference,” the pitcher said.

He mentioned a couple of friends, lefty Bailey Falter of the Phillies and righty Bailey Ober of the Twins, as inspirations. Both were added to their teams’ 40-man rosters a year ago and spent significant time in the majors in 2021.

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