June 16, 2024

When it was announced that Shane Bieber would be undergoing Tommy John surgery and would miss the rest of the year after making just two starts, there was a feeling of doom and gloom surrounding the Cleveland Guardians organization. Bieber was someone who was being counted on as being Cleveland’s Ace and someone who could end a losing streak should that proposition be on the table when his turn in the rotation comes. The Guardians had to figure out some way to make up for the loss of Bieber. There were some internal options, including Gavin Williams and Xzavion Curry, but it is someone that no one really saw coming who is stepping into Bieber’s shoes and flourishing. Ben Lively.

Lively has been spectacular in his first two starts (both against the Boston Red Sox), with the only dings against him being two solo home runs and a run that was balked in on a call by an umpire that can only be seen when broken down Zapruder Film style, and even then it’s questionable at best.

Even with the aforementioned knocks against Lively’s first two starts, he has only allowed three runs on eight hits in 11.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and just one walk. The most recent outing saw Lively limit the Red Sox to just one run, a solo home run in the 7th while striking out seven across 6.1 innings in Cleveland’s 4-1 win over Boston on Tuesday. While Lively did exit the game trailing 1-0, the Guardians were able to pick him up by scoring two runs in the 7th and two more in the 8th to secure the win.

Lively’s strikeout total has him in fourth place among available Guardians starters despite Tanner Bibee (five), Logan Allen (five), and Carlos Carrasco (four, will be five after Wednesday’s contest) having at least twice as many starts as him. Having someone fill up the strike zone on a regular basis was something this rotation desperately needed, especially considering the walk issues the rest of the rotation has experienced in the early going.

There is just something different about Lively’s approach that is refreshing when evaluating his performance compared to the other arms in the rotation. Lively has shown great confidence and is commanding all of his pitches, something that cannot really be said about the rest of the rotation so far. Having someone capable of getting past the 5th inning and pitching into the 6th is extremely valuable, as it will take a lot of pressure on the bullpen arms to be near-perfect while being used frequently.

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