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Stocking Left-Handed Relievers In The NL East

One team can change the entire division's gameplan. The Phillies have done that in recent years with their lefty-heavy middle of the order.

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Buster Olney of ESPN has his latest blog post up featuring the Marlins (Insider). He mentions the revamped bullpen they spent a lot of money and effort in creating, including two lefties in Michael Dunn and Randy Choate.

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The reason for the added importance of lefty relievers? The Phillies' lefty-heavy lineup that features Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Domonic Brown.

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The Braves have done the same by carrying two lefties in recent years, this year being Eric O'Flaherty and George Sherrill (Jonny Venters as well, but he's a setup/closer type more than situational). To be able to compete in the NL East, you have to be able to get through the middle of the Phillies order. It's not fun saying it, but that is where the division runs through.

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The Braves are doing a good job of trying to change that, and it could very well happen in the future. Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman is a dynamic lefty trio that will only get better.

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Speaking of the Phillies, Utley has patellar tendinitis in his knee again. He has had it for a while now, and it's not really that concerning for the Phillies, but it's worth noting in that it's preventing him from playing his first spring games right now.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.