Once upon a time, Cincinnati Reds pitching guru Derek Johnson was credited with forming pitchers from mud and spare parts and rolling them out for 4 WAR seasons. That might be a bit of a stretch on the part of the author here, but you do recall the mid-career revivals of both Wade Miley and Sonny Gray and the evolution of 7th round pick Tyler Mahle into a frontline starter, right?
Anyway, it’s been a bit since we’ve truly seen one of those from Johnson and the Reds, what with 1st round picks like Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo and Lucas Sims all out there doing what they’re supposed to do. In Ben Lively, however, there’s a very interesting case to be made that a pitcher from the back fields has been rediscovered.
Lively has been excellent for Cincinnati when they’ve needed it most, stepping into the rotation amid the injury to Lodolo, the release of Luis Cessa, the trade of Chase Anderson, the struggles of Graham Ashcraft, and the trade of veteran Chase Anderson to Colorado. The former 4th round pick by the club spent four seasons in South Korea plying his trade to keep the dream rolling, and he’s back with a new pitch-mix that befuddled both the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals in recent starts.
Lively will get the chance to slay another MLB dragon tonight as the Reds starter in Fenway, as the Reds begin a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox. I don’t know about you, but if he rockets through this lineup, too, I’m going to begin to bang the Ben Lively: MLB Comeback Player of the Year drum as loud as I can.
The Reds will have to get through talented young righty Brayan Bello to keep their positive play going. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.