Lively continues to battle for final rotation spot

Lively continues to push for slot in Phillies rotation
Ben Lively strengthened his case for the final slot in the Phillies' starting rotation on Thursday, tossing four innings in a 7-6 win over the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Lively surrendered three runs on five hits but pitched much better than his line indicates. He retired seven straight batters at one point and struck out Giancarlo Stanton with a slider. Most of the damage came on pitches on the inside part of the plate, a tough place to pitch against a talented lineup like the Yankees.

“A couple of those four-seamers came back, and they barreled it,” Lively said. “Can’t do anything about that. Two pitches. That’s baseball.”

The start marked the first time all spring Lively surrendered a run.

The 25-year-old made 15 starts with the Phillies last season, piecing together 10 quality starts while finishing 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA.

As of now, it appears Lively is competing with Zach Eflin for the No. 5 spot in the Phillies' starting rotation.

Eflin, a former first-round pick, struggled last season in his major league debut, allowing 44 earned runs over 64 1/3 innings. This spring he's surrendered three earned runs over 4 1/3 innings.

"I think they've both responded to the competition period beautifully," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We never said, 'You guys are competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.' That's more external. Internally, it's 'You guys are competing.' That's it. And they've both competed beautifully."

Others still in the running include Mark Leiter Jr. and Jake Thompson.

"Everyone knew it was going to be a competition coming into Spring Training," Lively said. "You can't really think about it, because if you think about it, you'll mess up. I'm just going to stay with the same game plan, grind and keep going."

Up Next
Jerad Eickhoff is set to start Friday's contest against the Pirates. He's surrendered two earned runs over four innings this spring.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

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