Samsung-released outsider wins first ML start in 6 years…reverses 2.65 ERA “This is why it works”

After three years with the Samsung Lions of the KBO, right-handed pitcher Ben Lively (31-Cincinnati Reds) made his first start in five years in the Major Leagues.

Lively started the Reds’ 2023 Major League Baseball home game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., on Friday (Sept. 25) and pitched six innings of five-hit ball, giving up two runs on two hits with eight strikeouts and two walks to lead Cincinnati to a 10-3 victory.

Lively, who improved to 2-0 on the season, saw his 안전놀이터 ERA rise from 2.45 to 2.65, but remained in the double digits. It was his first major league start in six years. Five years, seven months, 24 days (2065 days) to be exact since his last start on Sept. 30, 2017, against the New York Mets while with the Philadelphia Phillies.

After striking out Wilson Contreras on an outside slider with runners on first and second in the first inning, Lively got out of the jam with a strikeout and two infield grounders. In the third, he was hit by a pitch with one out, but struck out Nolan Arenado and Contreras on a slider and sinker, respectively.

He gave up two runs on solo homers to Brandon Donovan in the fourth and Lars Nutba in the fifth, but stayed on the mound until the sixth. He was down to 93 pitches after five innings, but he came out in the sixth and threw 10 more pitches for a quality start. His 103 total pitches included a four-seam fastball (40), slider (23), changeup (10), curveball (6), and cutter (2), with a sinker that topped out at 95.3 mph (153.4 km/h) and averaged 91.7 mph (147.6 km/h).

According to, after the fifth inning, manager David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson asked if he could go one more inning, to which Lively replied, “Absolutely. As a starter, giving relievers a break is something I like to do,” Lively said. “That’s why he’s back here,” Bell said. He’s enjoying every minute of it. He’s getting the most out of all his pitches.”

“I can learn a lot from Lively,” Bell continued. He changes speeds, he mixes pitches, he throws strikes,” Bell reiterated. Cincinnati catcher Tyler Stephenson, who was also in the battery, said, “Lively throws a lot of different pitches in the zone. He mixes up his pitches, so he’s unpredictable.”

Lively came to Korea in August 2019 as a replacement foreign player for Samsung. He went 10-12 with a 4.14 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 36 games (202⅓ innings) over three years before being released due to a shoulder injury in June 2021. He had a live ball with a three-seamer, but repeated injuries prevented him from pitching full-time, and he was eventually released.

However, he signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati last year and spent a full season in Triple-A to get healthy, earning a big league call-up on April 10. He pitched the first two games in relief and has been the starter since April 20 against the New York Yankees. He took the loss against the Yankees, but pitched 5⅔ innings, allowing two runs on two hits (one home run) with one walk and eight strikeouts. With the win, he improved to 2-2 on the season with a 2.65 ERA.

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