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Article:NL East: All Going According To Plan

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Well, these are some interesting results. After the first three days of play, everyone's preseason pick, the Washington Nationals (3-0) sit atop the NL East.

Meanwhile, the presumptive favorites, the New York Mets (2-1) and the Atlanta Braves (1-2) are hitting some bumps but at least they have won a game. And at 1-2, the Florida Marlins may be exceeding many prognosticators opinions of their chances.

Then we come to the Phillies. As they were left for dead by most of ESPN assembled, and many more NL East evaluators, perhaps nobody should be surprised by their 0-2 start.

Nevertheless, I am surprised. I would not have expected them to lose two games to the Nationals - and certainly not a 1-0 game like tonight. At least Cole Hamels had a relatively good game - eight innings, six Ks and two walks. Honestly, in 2008 baseball, you give up one run, you should be able to earn the win. Especially when the bullpen doesn't collapse.

I look at the numbers and one thing jumps out at me. It's not the relatively weak offensive numbers. It's too early to worry about that. I fully expect solid seasons out of the stalwart guys Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. They aren't a concern. 

No - the numbers that concerns me is the LOB numbers: three LOB in both games. This tells me two things. They're not getting many men on base and they're getting outhit. Which, given their lineup, is a bit distressing.

But hold that incredulous "well, duh" comment for a moment. I know I'm not breaking news here.

The reason that I am paying attention to the LOB numbers is that for the past few seasons, the Phils seemed to be leaving a lot of men on base. From what I remember from checking box scores last year, it was not unusual to see 10 or more LOB in games for them. I hope the low LOB numbers trend continues...as long as they get hits like they did last year.

It's only two games. They still have 160 more to right the ship.


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