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Morning News: Is Lively worthy of the fifth starter spot?

Here is your news update.

A GOOD WIN: The Phillies were losing early to the Yankees, but they made a furious comeback and won 7-6 on Thursday. Ben Lively started and pitched OK to start, then badly to finish (4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). Tommy Hunter wasn’t very good either (0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB).

Tommy Joseph went 2-for-3. Michael Sadowski wrote about his hot spring and if it means anything about his future.


AS FOR BEN: Lively is one of the contenders to start in the rotation this season. But, according to reports, there’s only one other true competitor: Zach Eflin. Matt Breen wrote as much today, while Meghan Montemurro said the same thing while speaking on the Effectively Wild podcast from Fangraphs.

So here’s my question: Why? Why is just Lively or Eflin? Why is Drew Hutchison – who hasn’t really fared any worse than those two – on the outside? Why isn’t Jake Thompson getting more of a shot? Why isn’t Tom Eshelman getting more of a shot? What about a four-man rotation with a nine-man bullpen? Or, hell, why not Aaron Nola be the only pitcher to go more than three innings, and he pitches every other day, because his stuff is the only stuff I honestly think is going to work this year?

Okay, I know we have to be patient to see how this goes, but I do think the Phillies are painting themselves into a corner by not giving anyone else a serious look against Lively and Eflin. Maybe one of them puts it together this season, but if teams generally use somewhere around 12 starters per season, this is the depth staring us in the face:

  1. Aaron Nola
  2. Jerad Eickhoff
  3. Vince Velasquez
  4. Nick Pivetta
  5. Ben Lively
  6. Zach Eflin
  7. Mark Leiter Jr. (more an emergency option)
  8. Tom Eshelman
  9. Drew Hutchison (if he’s stays on with the Phils)
  10. Jake Thompson (if he’s not a reliever now)
  11. Jose Taveras
  12. Ranger Suarez

Not exactly inspiring, and you’re reaching with the kids at 11 and 12. The Phils need pitching. We know this. They don’t need Jake Arrieta or even a Lance Lynn, but they do need depth. Jeremy Hellickson, who liked pitching in Philly, is still out there. There are plenty of options, some who may even take a minor league deal. But maybe the Phils should go after a guy who can challenge for a rotation spot right now.

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