Ben Lively to the DL as Shaky #5 SP Spot Becomes Shakier
It was not long after he got done pitching batting practice to the Arizona Diamondbacks that Ben Lively mentioned that his back was tight, and he just wasn’t feeling right. Given the lack of urgency to this after the game, it was a slight surprise that Lively ended up immediately on the disabled list. To fill his spot the Phillies have recalled right handed pitcher Jake Thompson. We don’t know how long Ben Lively will be out with his lower back strain, so I am not going to speculate how long he is going to out for, because his DL stint could run all the way until Jerad Eickhoff is back.
The Jake Thompson piece is a lot less (or more exciting depending on your point of view) than it appears at first glance. With the Phillies having 4 games until Lively’s next start, having an extra player, in this case a reliever makes a lot of sense. We know because they called up Thompson today, that he won’t take Lively’s spot in the rotation. Thompson is not stretched out as a starter and was actually not great (10 runs in 3.2 innings not great) in his last time out. Instead, Thompson will go into the Phillies bullpen as a mop up arm in the same role he served before being demoted.
As for who starts in Lively’s place, the options are not great. Enyel De Los Santos is the best arm on the IronPigs staff, but he is not on the 40 man roster and in the middle of work that the Philles might not want to disrupt. Thomas Eshelman is also not on the 40 man roster, and with 31 hits allowed in 20.1 innings and a 7.08 ERA, he has not had a good start. Cole Irvin has been better than Eshelman (only a 5.40 ERA), but he only has 3 AAA starts and is not on the 40 man. Jacob Waguespack was just promoted to AAA. That leaves just Zach Eflin and Drew Hutchison. Eflin has 3 solid starts before getting lit up in his last time out. He is functionally the same guy he has always been. He has a mid 90s fastball and questionable offspeed stuff and command. Occasionally he will mix his pitches enough to keep batters off balance, but without better offspeed pitches, his success is unsustainable. Hutchison has been the Phillies’ long man and outside of a home run, was pretty solid in relief of Lively yesterday. His control has been shaky and he is probably only stretched out enough for 4-5 inning, but with the next start against the Marlins, the Phillies can manage around that.
Neither option is great, but neither was Lively. We still look to be a few weeks away from Jerad Eickhoff rejoining the team, and until then every 5th day will be rough.
The Phillies also promoted right handed reliever Seranthony Dominguez to Lehigh Valley. The hard throwing Dominican should be with the Phillies at some point this summer.