Phillies rookie Ben Lively showing promise early in MLB career

Jun 3, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Ben Lively (49) pitches during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 3, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Ben Lively (49) pitches during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rookie Ben Lively has pitched seven innings in each of his three Major League starts and is showing promise for the Phillies.

It’s been difficult to find something positive to say about the Phillies horrendous 22-43 start this season. One recent ray of hope has been the pitching of Ben Lively, who has made three starts since his call up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Lively has pitched seven innings of each of his three starts. He’s 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He’s allowed 21 hits, seven walks and struck out five in 21 innings, for a solid 1.33 WHIP.

While Lively’s strikeout totals are undoubtedly low, it could be a benefit to Lively and the club in the long run. Low strikeout totals are generally associated with low pitch counts, and Lively is no exception. He’s averaged only 100 pitches per start, or a solid 14.3 pitches per inning. Most pitchers on the staff have struggled to reach seven innings consistently.

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For those that aren’t familiar with Lively, he was drafted by the Indians out of high school in the 26th round in 2010.  Lively opted to attend the University of Central Florida and was drafted in the 4th round by the Reds in 2013.

Lively put together excellent numbers for the Reds organization in Class-A before joining the Phillies organization in 2015. After a mediocre 8-7 record with a 4.13 ERA in Reading, Lively opened eyes last season splitting time between Reading and Lehigh Valley.  He posted a combined 18-5 record with a 2.69 ERA, allowing only 118 hits in 170 2/3 innings.

Overall, Lively compiled a 45-24 record in the minor leagues with a 2.99 ERA and 522 strikeouts in 562 2/3 innings. Thus far, his ability to get strikeouts hasn’t transferred to the Major League level. It’s too early to determine if that will happen.

The overall look of the Phillies pitching staff has been dismal, with a team ERA of 5.01. No starting pitcher besides Lively has an ERA under four, with Aaron Nola second best at 4.40.

Next: Phillies Opposition Roadblock: Arizona Diamondbacks

Here’s hoping Lively can continue to pitch well moving forward. The key will be how he responds the second time through the league, as teams are unfamiliar with his stuff. For now, Lively is one player to watch throughout the summer in what is otherwise a dismal season.

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