ATLANTA -- Maybe rookie Ben Lively can provide some needed stability and consistency to the Phillies rotation.It might be a little early to draw any conclusions about where Lively is headed based on two Major League starts, but he pitched seven more quality innings on Thursday night in a 3-1
ATLANTA -- Maybe rookie Ben Lively can provide some needed stability and consistency to the Phillies rotation.
It might be a little early to draw any conclusions about where Lively is headed based on two Major League starts, but he pitched seven more quality innings on Thursday night in a 3-1 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park.
Lively has thrown seven innings in each of his first two big league starts, becoming the first Phillies pitcher to accomplish the feat since Carlton Loewer in 1998.
"Just stay strong," Lively said. "How I pitch got me here. If I stay on that track and keep being that bulldog, hopefully I'll keep having games like this."
Lively recently replaced Zach Eflin in the Phillies rotation. If he keeps pitching like this, he isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Phillies starters have pitched more than six innings just 13 times this season, and Lively has two of those outings.
"He's a real battler," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Threw a lot of strikes. Walked a couple guys. Not a lot of strikeouts, but he battles. He comes right after you."
Lively has not been overpowering in either of his first two starts. He did not strike out a batter in his debut Saturday against the Giants, but he induced a lot of weak contact. Just 18 percent of the batted balls off him against San Francisco were hit hard (95 mph or more) and just one ball was hit harder than 100 mph, according to Statcast™.
"To tell you the truth, he had good stuff, and he just made a lot of mistakes today, but he had great stuff," Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips said.
He gave up hard-hit balls on eight of 25 (32 percent) batted balls Thursday, including six over 100 mph. But he minimized the damage, allowing just three runs on nine hits and two walks, while registering his first three strikeouts of the season. He got his first big league strikeout in the first inning when he got Braves catcher Tyler Flowers swinging on a foul tip.
"I'm not going to change how I pitch," Lively said. "That's what got me here. I'm going to be the same guy that I've always been."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.