By Sam Bush

Spring training is just 18 days away, and as the Phillies prepare for Clearwater,’s Todd Zolecki is weighing in on the Phills:

The Nationals and Braves must rank ahead of the Phillies entering Spring Training.

After all, the Nats won the World Series and the Braves won the division in 2019.

The Mets probably need to be ranked ahead of them, too. Not only did New York play better than the Phils last season, it played better after the All-Star break than every team in the NL aside from the Dodgers.

That said, the idea that the Phillies are doomed for a fourth-place finish before camp even opens is a stretch.

The Phils have a lot of talent. Yes, they need things to break their way — there is no arguing that. They need the bottom of the rotation to step up, unlike last season. They need the bullpen to stay healthy. They need Andrew McCutchen to bounce back from ACL surgery.

But if Philadelphia is playing meaningful baseball in September, either running down a division title or a Wild Card berth, it would hardly be a major upset.

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