The second that Zach Eflin was optioned back to Lehigh Valley, speculation about who would replace him started. Ben Lively was the name most mentioned as being the leading contender, but nobody was tipping their hand as to who might get the call. Last night, the Phillies had to tip their hand when Lively was slated to start for Lehigh Valley. Instead, Cesar Ramos got the start for Lehigh Valley, paving the way for Lively to start Saturday in Philadelphia.
No pitcher in the organization deserved the opportunity more than Lively. The 25-year old right-hander went 18-5 last season with Lehigh Valley and is 32-13 since joining the Phillies organization in a trade with Cincinnati that sent Marlon Byrd to the Reds on New Year's Eve of 2014. His ERA since coming over in the trade is an impressive 3.20.
Twice this season, Lively was recalled by the Phillies, but was put in the bullpen as an extra arm. Neither time was he called on to pitch in the game, and was optioned back to Lehigh Valley. This time around, Lively will certainly get his chance to pitch, with his debut coming against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park.
It's likely that Lively will spend some time in Philadelphia, especially if he pitches well. Not only did the Phillies option Eflin back to the IronPigs, but they also have Vince Velasquez likely headed for the DL after leaving his last start with an elbow injury. Nick Pivetta may get the call to replace Velasquez in the Phillies rotation.