KC Royals express confidence in reliever James McArthur after two blown saves

The Kansas City Royals are sticking with young reliever James McArthur.

On Tuesday, McArthur earned a vote of confidence from his teammates after blowing his second consecutive save opportunity.

“He’s going to wear it tonight and that’s fine,” Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino said. “That’s what competitors do. He’s going to go see his kids and he is going to be just fine. So it’ll be a beautiful moment for him really. He gets a chance to come back tomorrow and compete. And that’s what it’s all about.”

McArthur failed to protect a two-run lead against the Brewers. In the ninth inning, McArthur surrendered a game-winning three-run homer to Brewers shortstop Willy Adames that propelled Milwaukee to a 6-5 victory.

The Royals dropped to 21-16. McArthur took the loss after allowing three hits and a walk in the final frame.

“Really frustrating,” McArthur said. “Supposed to be a curveball down and hung it up in the (strike) zone a little bit. He’s a guy where you can’t make that mistake, especially late in the game. He made me pay and made us pay.”

McArthur has fallen short in his last two save opportunities. He also blew a save on Sunday against the Texas Rangers at Kauffman Stadium.

However, the Royals are still confident in utilizing him in high-leverage situations. McArthur has shown he can get big outs since sliding into the closer role.

This season, McArthur has seven saves in 10 opportunities. He has 18 strikeouts and walked just three batters in 16 ⅔ innings.

Two home runs have marred his hot start to the 2024 campaign, but McArthur has not wavered in his confidence. He plans to review his last two outings and find a solution.

“I think it’s just (going to) talk with the pitching coaches and talk about things where maybe I am falling into bad habits,” McArthur said. “Maybe I’m falling into bad patterns. Just need to get back to getting ahead of hitters and putting guys away.”

McArthur’s teammates will support him along the way. Royals starter Seth Lugo, who allowed three runs in 6 ⅔ innings against the Brewers, has experienced a similar transition operating as a reliever in a bullpen.

“I know what it’s like to have a rough outing or two out of the ‘pen,” Lugo said. “To be able to flush that and move forward, it’s something you learn how to do as you get older. A lot of the times, it’s not necessarily easy to do alone. As a team, we are going to have his back and we are going to pull for him.”

The Royals will look to win the series on Wednesday afternoon. If the game is close in the ninth inning, Royals manager Matt Quatraro has no issues calling on McArthur once more.

“He is going to keep getting opportunities to pitch in high leverage,” Quatraro said. “We are not backing away from it. He’s good. Sometimes you get beat.”