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.

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  1. Walt

    April 27, 2018 05:00 PM

    Hutchison has lifetime era of 4.98 . Why is he on the roster? The Phils should always consult their South American scouting combine before making any moves. They have invested alot in it and I am sure it will eventually provide an impact player.

    • Steve

      April 27, 2018 06:52 PM

      Good point Walt. This 5sp problem could ruin their season. They need to trade for a LHP to replace Lively who can switch hit, bunt for base hits, steal bases, and who played for the original Whiz Kids. Get that guy at any cost and we are going to the World Series.

      • awh

        April 28, 2018 12:45 PM

        Steve, correct.

        I propose we offer Oakland: Pivetta, Kingery, Quinn, Sixto, Kilome, Jhailyn, Gamboa, Mickey Mo, Hasely and Medina for Sean Manaea’s DNA.

        Then, we’ll sneak into the Dodgers locker room and steal Utley’s comb so we get his DNA from his hair.

        Clone the two together , and we’ll have the guy Walt wants!

    • awh

      April 28, 2018 12:35 PM

      “Hutchison has lifetime era of 4.98 . Why is he on the roster? ”

      Ummm, because his ERA in Philadelphia is only 3.27. He’s fungible and easily replaceable, but until/when/if he implodes, as long as he is pitching well you ride him and let him eat low-leverage innings, but I guess that concept is lost on you.

    • Just Bob

      April 28, 2018 04:46 PM

      Your right Walt and the Phillies’ investments in the untapped markets of French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname are starting to pay big dividends.

  2. Walt

    April 27, 2018 08:05 PM


    Three Phils in tonight’s Atlanta game of the 9 in starting line-up are batting > .208 The timing of the Arrieta acquisition was the perfect boost with the other three mercenaries to propel the home team into the post season. There can be no doubt the South American scouting combine was fully consulted on these masterful strategic moves. Start printing the tickets for the playoffs.

  3. Aaron

    April 28, 2018 03:11 AM

    Nice article but was wondering, where is Thomson’s ceiling? I thought he had all this supposed upside, like a #3 right? He has some really shiny minor league stats, especially 2016, SO rate is really not great but seems to be getting better. Long long long shift at work, maybe I’m thinking of someone else?

  4. Walt

    April 28, 2018 08:15 PM

    Mercenary Santana zero for three again today so far. He is a lifetime .248 man. Now is the time to sign his cousins and uncles Phils. It is obvious the big bosses just rubber stamp anything the Philly South American scouting combine desires. Sixty mil for this guy when Cleveland only offered him thirty-six mil. Beautiful. Those two other mercenary pitchers and Hutchinson are taking valuable roster spots that could be useful in the Whiz Kid movement instead of mismanagement of roster composition. A novel idea; put all three of said pitchers in a boat and sail them someplace for a serviceable southpaw three notches above Morgan.

    • Romus

      April 29, 2018 08:19 AM

      Walt….would it have made you any happier if the Phillies’ had signed Santana for 3 years and $45M or $48M vs $60M?
      Initially, I was not thrilled over the signing also…..but listening to their reasoning behind it I kind of came around.

  5. Walt

    April 29, 2018 12:48 PM

    Romus: please tell me the logic for acquiring hired ringer Santana when his own Indians only offered 12mil per for three years. This should be a piece of work. Regarding Hutchison and ringers Hunter and Neshek; I stand corrected. Just forget hiring a decent southpaw since it is an aversion for this Phils’ regime. Put all three in a boat and SALE them to parts unknown just to free up respective roster slots for more kids to start getting major league experience now. Hunter and Neshek are not very impressive regarding their histories. Especially Neshek; over the years this man has logged very few innings and contributed very little and Phils think he is worth 7.75 mil for each of two years? Hunter is not close to being worth 9mil times two. The Phils are not wasting my money on these roster impostors so they can give them as many gifts as they wish. My only hope is that they continue to obtain signed approvals for all expenditures with their exemplary South American scouting combine. Maybe by 2025 this masterful genius scouting combine will finally identify their first kingpin prospect that Phils can secure.

  6. Walt

    April 29, 2018 04:52 PM

    Big boy first sacker rattles rack at 5-11, 210. Dude now at .160 This youngster needs to get on a diet pronto and drop 50 lbs. Then we can all relax because it will be true when the fanbase says this fine specimen at least hits his weight.

    • Tokyo Jo

      April 29, 2018 05:45 PM

      Hey Walt why don’t you just do yourself a big heavy and stfu.

  7. Michael C Lorah

    April 30, 2018 07:16 AM

    (I’m going to ignore the channel static and get to the point here.)

    While Lively’s struggles (and DLing) are disappointing, they’re not surprising. I’m a lot more worried about Velazquez and Pivetta suddenly looking like their 2017 selves. The DBacks series was about what I expected – split games against Ray and Greinke, lose Lively’s start unless the offense has a big day.

    The Atlanta series was more problematic to me. Maybe (hopefully) Atlanta just has Vince’s number right now. His only two really awful starts were against them. But he was very human against Arizona as well. Pivetta is similarly mortal when facing the Braves. Maybe it’s as simple as Atlanta having seen them so many times or their hitters’ strengths play to how Vince and Nick pitch. Maybe the Braves are in our pitchers’ heads, I dunno.

    I hope it’s just a one-team blip and those guys can get back on track and provide reliable innings for a while, because the pitching’s carrying this team and a struggling fifth starter is frustrating, but typical – three struggling rotation spots is a recipe for very quickly coming back to earth.

  8. Jeff Orbach

    May 01, 2018 12:22 PM

    Maybe we’ll get Cole Hamels back this year . He’s a lefty bound to be relatively cheap in terms of prospects and loves being a Phillie.

    Santana should be “rested” for a few days, put Rhys back at 1st and Williams in left. But Kapler will probably put Kingery at 1st and Valentin at short or some such analytical move. I also feel his defensive shifts have been too radical and have burned us more often than helped us.

  9. tom

    July 06, 2018 11:29 PM

    I can’t wait till your next piece in Eflin. Can’t say I fault you for not seeing what he has done since you wrote this piece, who really did ? I have enjoyed watching him pitch as much as anything else in this fun year for the Phillies.

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