There have not been many shining moments to the start of the 2018 season for the Philadelphia Phillies. Whether it was a decision by the manager, an outing from someone in the bullpen, or like last night, being shut out by the Mets, the Phillies have started the season slow. However, the start from Ben Lively gives some hope for the back end of the rotation.
Ben Lively was not a sure thing to make the Opening Day roster at the start of Spring Training. Down in Clearwater, Lively battled with right-hander Zach Eflin, both of who we saw with the big league club in 2017. Both pitchers had disappointing seasons last year, so there was no guarantee for one or the other to start 2018 in Philadelphia. Lively ended up beating out Eflin for the 5th spot in the rotation when he posted a 3.13 ERA in 5 starts and 1 relief appearance.
Fast forward to last night, the Phillies were in need of a win, and a good outing from their starting pitcher to help a bullpen that has been heavily used through the first 3 games. Lively who compliments his mid to low fastball with a strong slider and curveball, faced a Mets lineup that holds a handful of players who can put one over the fence. With the help of frigid temperatures in New York last night, Lively impressed in his 2018 debut.
Through the first 5 innings of the game, the 26 year old starter shutout the Phillies rival and only allowed 4 hits. Lively then found himself in some trouble in the 6th inning after hitting Yoenis Céspedes with a pitch who later scored on a double by New Jersey native Todd Frazier. Frazier then scored after Mets catcher (and former Phillies prospect) Travis d’Arnaud hit a single to end Lively’s night.
In terms of what baseball considers a “quality start” (6 innings pitched with 3 or less earned runs), Lively did not check that off. However, having your 5th pitcher in the starting rotation throw 5 2/3 innings and only allow 2 runs to score, that is a quality start for any major league team.
Throughout his start, Lively had the Phillies in a position to win the ball game. Unfortunately, the offense never came alive during or after the outing of the young right-hander. The Phillies could only tally 3 hits against Mets pitching, and not one member of the team could reach home plate. If Lively had at least 1 run of support, maybe we are talking about a different story today.
Regardless of how the game turned out, the first glimmer of hope shined last night for the Phillies. Ben Lively is not going to be a Cy Young candidate at the end of the season, but starts like that will show a deeper rotation. The idea of having Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta together is something to get excited about, but the rest of the rotation will eventually hold this team back. If Lively, Vince Velasquez, and Nick Pivetta can have consistent starts like what we saw last night, maybe the playoff dreams are not as unrealistic.
The next thing that needs to be solved for the Phillies is the lack of offense. It was not “hitting weather” last night for both teams, but to only have 3 hits when your 5th starter in the rotation is on the mound, is not a way to win a ball game. Hopefully we see this young offense come alive and then we will start to see them put together some wins.
– Andrew Salciunas – Phillies Contributor for 975thefanatic.com
– Producer of The Mayes and Myrtetus Midday Show – Monday-Friday 10:00a-2:00p