By Sam Bush

Just where do the Phillies belong in the pecking order of MLB elite teams?

Well, before last night’s meltdown in the desert, The Athletic posted this:

7. Phillies
Record: 72-56
Last Power Ranking: 9

Admit it, Phillies fans: this season looked bleak not that long ago, huh? Your manager got canned. Your star slugger landed in the infirmary. Your outfield defense was only a passing notion. Oy, and that bullpen.

But just as we enter the stretch run, the Phillies are on fire. They netted 20 wins over the past month, moving from 8 games over .500 to 16 games above water. They leapfrogged two NL teams in front of them over that stretch. And now they have a healthy lead on the Padres in the wild-card chase. Rob Thomson might look more like “Rob from Accounting” but he has the Phils back on track. The bullpen is striking out nearly 10 per nine innings in August.

And Bryce Harper is back in action, wearing the same pearls that shot Joc Pederson and J-Hope into clutch status. The Phillies learned to win without him. But they won’t suddenly unlearn everything now that he’s back. Time to dust off the stadium bunting.

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