Ben Lively never looked right in his start against the Chicago Cubs last night. The first five batters reached, the first five runners scored, and the box score can tell you most of what you need to know about the end result, but it wasn’t just that he was getting shelled, it’s that he just didn’t look comfortable delivering his pitches in the spots they’ve been for most of his renaissance season.
Turns out there might be a reason for that.
The Cincinnati Reds placed Lively on the 15-day IL this afternoon with a right pectoral strain, further decimating a pitching staff that’s already devoid of both their top two starters and, now, a trade window with which to pursue outside help.
The #Reds today placed on the 15-day injured list RHP Ben Lively (right pectoral strain) and recalled from Triple-A Louisville RHP Daniel Duarte.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 2, 2023
Baked into this is a five-layer lasagna of different frustrations. It’s frustrating as hell for Lively, obviously, who had been such a surprise rock in this rotation after years abroad. It’s frustrating as hell for the front office, too, since they just spent all day yesterday bypassing the opportunity to add pitching help. It’s surely frustrating to the rest of the players, who watched that lack of additions from their front office while their competition added to theirs, and now they watch their own feel-good story hit the shelf.
The frustration in the bullpen must also be legit, as they’ve already had to pick up the pieces time and time again as this season has worn on.
While Daniel Duarte was recalled to take the roster spot, it’s hard to expect anything other than Connor Phillips getting the call for Lively’s spot in the rotation. Phillips, the minor league’s leader in total strikeouts this year, has pitched admirably between AA Chattanooga and AAA Louisville, a 2.92 ERA and 13.9 K/9 in total on his card across 92.1 total IP. More importantly for this discussion, though, is that he, too, pitched last night, meaning he’d be on regular rest for the next turn in the rotation.
So, on the day after the trade deadline, the first place Cincinnati Reds are looking at a likely rotation that consists of 3/5th rookies often pitching in front of an infield entirely composed of rookies, too. There’s trusting your burgeoning farm system and there’s whatever this has become, I just hope like hell they can continue to find ways to all break out at the same time.