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Phillies 2021 Season Preview: Team Looks To Avoid 4th-Straight September Collapse To Make Playoffs For First Time Since 2011

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to erase another disappointing season as pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida for spring training on Wednesday. A third-straight September collapse cost the Phillies another chance at the playoffs, as they finished 28-32 and third place in the National League East in Joe Girardi's first year as manager.

Girardi believes the disappointment of last year's late-season collapse will serve as motivation entering spring training.

"I think it creates stronger chemistry when you go through difficult times," Girardi said.

The Phillies are hoping for better results this season as they have revamped the worst bullpen in baseball, adding Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, Brandon Kintzler and Sam Coonrod to replace trade disasters Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree and David Phelps.

"As a catcher, that's part of your job," All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto said. "You take it personally whenever your pitchers struggle. That was tough on me. I thought all offseason about ways to do things differently.

The Phils brought back Realmuto and shortstop Did Gregorius, major pieces to continue to build around Bryce Harper in the lineup.

"I'm just really glad to be back," Realmuto said. "I'm glad it worked out the way it did."

"They had me and J.T. as a priority and they got us both," Gregorius said.

But questions still remain about center field. Who will start between Roman Quinn, Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery or will the front office make a move for someone like Jackie Bradley Jr.?

Dave Dombrowski, who was hired as the Phillies' president of baseball operations after general manager Matt Klentak was fired, is hoping his touches will help propel the Phillies to their first playoff appearance since 2011. But the NL East is one of the best divisions in baseball. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system has the Phillies finishing third with an 83-79 record.

FanGraphs is giving the Phillies just a 13% chance to make the playoffs.

CBS3's Pat Gallen contributed to this report.

See below for a breakdown from The Associated Press on the upcoming season.

He's Here: RHP Archie Bradley, RHP Chase Anderson, LHP Matt Moore, LHP Jose Alvarado, RHP Sam Coonrod, INF C.J. Chatham, RHP Neftali Feliz, RHP Ivan Nova, RHP Hector Rondon, RHP David Paulino, RHP Michael Ynoa, C Christian Bethancourt, RHP Brandon Kintzler, OF Matt Joyce.

He's Outta Here: OF Jay Bruce, RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Brandon Workman, INF Phil Gosselin, RHP Heath Hembree, RHP David Phelps, RHP Blake Parker, LHP Adam Morgan, LHP Cole Irvin, OF Kyle Garlick, RHP Victor Arano.

Going campin': Even with the expanded postseason format last year, the Phillies fell one win short of their first playoff berth since 2011 following a third straight September collapse. The team's failure cost general manager Matt Klentak his job.

David Dombrowski was hired to run baseball operations and Sam Fuld was promoted to GM.

The Phillies re-signed two-time All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and agreed on a two-year deal to bring back shortstop Didi Gregorius, two key parts of an offense that tied for fifth in the majors in runs.

Scoring shouldn't be a problem for a group led by Realmuto, Gregorius, Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm, coming off an excellent rookie season.

RHPs Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin are a solid trio atop the rotation. New arms Anderson and Moore will compete with veteran Vince Velasquez and prospect Spencer Howard for the final two spots. Nova, a non-roster player, averaged 31 starts between 2017-19 so he's another option.

A dismal bullpen cost Philadelphia a postseason berth last season. Phillies relievers had a 7.06 ERA and the team blew eight separate three-run leads. Bradley has closer experience and will be a late-inning option along with righty Hector Neris. The Phillies are counting on Alvarado returning to his 2018 form with the Rays, and they're hoping non-roster pitchers like Feliz and Rondon can do the same.

Fans will not be allowed to watch spring workouts due to COVID-19, and tickets for games have yet to go on sale.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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