Major League Baseball is another step closer to returning after Monday’s announcement of the 2020 schedule. In a 60-game, race-to-the-postseason style season, it will be more of a sprint than the usual 162-game grind.
With a shortened season ahead, that just means that every game will count a little bit more and we’ll all be watching more closely for postseason implications and all.
Schedule-makers put a premium on regional matchups to limit travel for teams, so that means we’ll see a season that’s focused on division matchups. Interleague play will only happen among matching divisions (for example: The AL East will only play the NL East, not the Central or West.)
That means we’re going to see a lot of rivalries reignited. We’ll miss out on some things like seeing the Houston Astros play the New York Yankees after all the offseason controversy, but we do get the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Astros. We will also see some people in new uniforms visiting some of their old friends.
Here’s a look at some dates to circle on the schedule:
The Astros Shame Tour
Remember when the Astros were the biggest villains in baseball? Yeah, so do we. So does everybody else.
Astros’ first home game: July 24 — The Astros open the season at home vs. the Seattle Mariners with no fans most likely in attendance. After the offseason they had, that’s about the best possible scenario for the Astros.
Astros’ first road game: July 31 — It won’t carry the same weight since there won’t be fans, but the Astros will still have extra eyes on them when they visit the Los Angeles Angels on July 31.
Astros at Dodgers: Sept. 12-13 — This will be the biggest date on the Astros’ shame tour, as the Dodgers are the team the Astros beat in seven games in the 2017 World Series, and some Dodgers still think they were cheated out of a title.
Astros vs. A’s: Aug. 7-9 — It will be interesting to see if Mike Fiers, the former Astros pitcher who blew the whistle on their cheating plot, takes the mound against Houston at all this season. The two teams will meet for the first time Aug. 7-9 in Oakland, then twice more: Aug. 28-30 in Houston and Sept. 7-10 in Oakland.
All Your Favorite Rivalries
We still get plenty of Grade-A rivalries. It’s like the comfort food of baseball.
Yankees vs. Red Sox: July 31-Aug. 2 — You might have heard the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox (and their fans) don’t like each other. Don’t expect the coronavirus to change that. They’ll meet 10 times, starting July 31-Aug. 2 in the Bronx.
Giants vs. Dodgers: July 23-26 — The West Coast’s version of the Yankees and the Red Sox, only the Dodgers now have Mookie Betts and the San Francisco Giants’ big offseason acquisition was — *checks notes* — Billy Hamilton. They’ll play on opening night.
Cubs vs. White Sox: Aug. 21-23 — This cross-city rivalry is a little better this year now that the Chicago White Sox are loaded with young talent, including Eloy Jimenez, who came from the Cubs organization. They’ll meet Aug. 21-23 at Wrigley, then finish the season Sept. 25-27 on the South Side.
Yankees vs. Mets: Aug. 21-23 — It’s not exactly going to be the Subway Series, but hey, at least the travel will be easier. The first series will be at Citi Field. They’ll be Yankee Stadium on Aug. 28-30.
Old Friends edition
We’ll have to wait for Gerrit Cole vs. the Astros or Mookie Betts vs. the Red Sox, but we do have these.
MadBum vs. Giants: Aug. 21-23 — Now that Madison Bumgarner is with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he’ll get to face the Giants for the first time. And that will be weird. He and the D-backs will visit the Giants on Aug. 21-23.
Joe Girardi vs. Yankees: July 29-30— Girardi, the Yankees’ longtime manager, returns to Yankee Stadium in a Phillies uniform. For good measure, ex-Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius figures to be there, too.
Zack Wheeler vs. Mets: Aug. 14-16 — Wheeler jumped to the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies in free agency. After signing a $118 million contract, dinner is on him when the New York Mets come to Philly. He’ll go to Citi Field for the first time as a visitor Sept. 4-6.
Trevor Bauer vs. Indians: Aug. 5-6 — Bauer has spent part of a season with the Cincinnati Reds now, but the interleague matchups this year will give him his first trip back to Cleveland with the potential to face the Indians.
Nicholas Castellanos vs. the Tigers and Cubs: July 24-July 30 — Castellanos, who signed a $64 million deal with the Reds in free agency, gets to see both his former teams at the start. The Reds start their season hosting the Detroit Tigers for three games and then the division-rival Cubs on July 27-30.
Other dates to circle
Nationals start at home: July 23 — The Washington Nationals, the ones who haven’t opted out anyway, get to suit up as world champs on their home field for the first time. Fans or no fans, it’ll still be special. They’ll host the Yankees, which means you can expect to see Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole on opening day.
Shohei Ohtani’s first start?: July 26 — If the Angels stick to their previous plan of having Ohtani pitch on Sundays, this could be his first potential start. It would be against the Oakland A’s. It would be his first since September 2018 after Tommy John surgery.
Orioles vs. everybody — The Orioles, who are not good, have one of the toughest schedules in baseball being matched up against the AL East and NL East. Instead, they can look forward to playing the Miami Marlins, another not-so-great team, in the first week. They’ll play July 27-28 in Miami and July 29-30 in Baltimore. This might be Baltimore’s best chance at a four-game winning streak.
Jackie Robinson Day: Aug. 28 — Usually Jackie Robinson Day is in April, but this year the league still intends to honor Robinson. Just on Aug. 28.
Roberto Clemente Day: Sept. 9 — The league will honor former Pirates great Roberto Clemente on Sept. 9.
100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues: Aug. 16 — MLB will celebrate the centennial of the Negro Leagues on Aug. 16.
Field of Dreams game: Aug. 13 — MLB intends to still hold the “Field of Dreams” game in Iowa this season. It will be between the White Sox and Cardinals. If you build it and coronavirus happens, they will still come.
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