Ben Lively must establish himself today to stick with the Phillies

ST PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 15: Ben Lively /

Time is running out for Ben Lively and the Phillies

Jake Arrieta’s signing with the Phillies late in spring training took one more job away from a pitcher competing in the organization. Jerad Eickhoff’s injured lat muscle opened up the opportunity for one more prospect to join the fray, but with Eickhoff’s return looming, his temporary replacement is feeling the heat.

Ben Lively takes the mound Friday night for the fourth time this season, and it must be his best yet to stick with the team. An unimpressive 5.87 ERA and the inability to pitch out of the sixth inning will haunt the young righty in the very near future as Eickhoff regains his health.

At this moment, Lively is the odd man out of a rotation that’s shown promise with Arrieta and Aaron Nola at the top and Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta continuing to mature on the mound. Lively’s ERA is the only one among the five starters above four, and he’s the only starter to allow two home runs this year.

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By no means does Eickhoff’s return end Lively’s major league career or tenure with the Phillies organization. Acquired from the Reds for Marlon Byrd, Lively has provided an excellent return on value in his 18 career starts, allowing only 52 earned runs in the majors.

There has also been some statistical improvement this year from Lively with his BB/9 and K/9 headed in the right direction.

He’s thrown a curveball nearly 11% more according to FanGraphs, and the velocity on his change-up and slider have also slightly increased.

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It’ll ultimately come down to a numbers game for Lively, and unless he flashes something spectacular, the Phillies will use one of his two remaining minor league options to clear the way for Eickhoff.