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Phillies’ Ben Lively will make his major league debut on Saturday

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Phillies’ right-hander Ben Lively is scheduled for his first big league start on Saturday, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. The club appears to be hurting for rotation depth, contrary to general manager Matt Klentak’s recent comments, with all five starters currently pitching above a 5.00 ERA and Vince Velasquez landing on the 10-day disabled list with a flexor strain in his right elbow.

The nail in the coffin? Jerad Eickhoff lasted just 2 2/3 innings during Friday’s series opener against the Giants, sinking the Phillies 10-0 and handing Giants’ starter Ty Blach his first career complete game shutout. Klentak chalked up the team’s struggles to the “growing pains” of the rebuilding process, telling reporters he was content to wait another year before reassessing the organization’s pitching depth. In the meantime, there’s no denying that Lively’s presence on the mound on Saturday could bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the last-place Phillies.

Lively, 25, was initially recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in April to serve as emergency bullpen depth during Pat Neshek‘s absence, but was not utilized in a game during his brief stay in the majors. He’s pitched to a strong 2.40 ERA through 56 1/3 innings in Triple-A this spring, going 6-1 in nine starts with a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).