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Although talent and opportunity remain the biggest factors in the success or failure of Major League players, some are facing a much tougher road than others due to the imbalance in the shortened 2020 schedule. At the very least, wise fantasy managers will use the schedule as a tiebreaker when deciding between similar players on draft day.
Here are the groups of players who should see the largest production swings.
Having 10 contests against the Royals and Tigers is great news. And, seven of their 10 games against Cleveland are in Minnesota. The Twins also avoid Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly park entirely, although they do have a trio of contests in Milwaukee. This could be the year that Jose Berrios turns a corner. Also, Kenta Maeda is severely undervalued.
As was mentioned with the Twins, having 10 games against each of the Tigers and Royals almost automatically makes this schedule a friendly one. Cleveland also gets six of their non-division games against the lowly Pirates, and all three of their matches with Milwaukee will be played at home. Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber are lined up for magical seasons, while Aaron Civale is suddenly a great sleeper.
Arizona makes just three trips to Coors Field but gets to visit Petco Park and Oracle Park each for seven contests. They also get to play at home for seven of their 10 games against the Dodgers. Overall, this is excellent news for those who want to speculate on a breakout for Zac Gallen or hope that Madison Bumgarner has something left in the tank.
Depending on how the new park in Texas plays, the A’s could end up playing just two of their 60 games in parks that are hitter-friendly. Oakland also draws six of their non-division games against the light-hitting Giants and gets to play at home for seven of their 10 contests against their two biggest rivals, the Astros and Angels. Even their seven road contests in Seattle ought to be easy pickings for Oakland hurlers.
St. Louis gets to face the lowly Royals for six of their non-division games, and all of their three contests against a respectable Cleveland lineup come at home. Within the division, they will play just three of their 10 games against the Reds at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. Jack Flaherty is poised to remain a fantasy ace, while Miles Mikolas could have a bounce-back season and Kwang Hyun Kim ought to enjoy a solid debut.
As though the Yankees productive lineup needed any help, they will play 48 of their 60 games at hitter-friendly parks. Beyond their 30 home contests, New York gets seven road tilts in Toronto and six in Baltimore. Look for the Yankees to beat up on those pitching staffs, as well as the Marlins when they meet up for a series in the Bronx.
Petco Park is not as difficult for hitters as it used to be, but seven games at Coors Field is the main reason the Padres are on this list. All seven of the Colorado contests are among the Padres' initial 37 games, meaning that wise fantasy managers will give late-round San Diego hitters the benefit of the doubt in terms of possible breakouts. That list includes Trent Grisham and Francisco Mejia.
Blue Jays Pitchers
Toronto’s 10 games against the Yankees and Rays will be especially tough, and their 10 contests against the Red Sox could be shootouts. Additionally, the Blue Jays will have to face a difficult NL East division that now has the luxury of using a DH. This news should dull enthusiasm for the looming Toronto debuts of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Nate Pearson.
Miami is clearly the weakest team in the NL East, which makes their road especially tough during a season in which 67 percent of games are played within the division. The club also has their highest number of non-division games against the formidable Rays and must play all their games against the Yankees in the Bronx. Miami’s staff is full of interesting late-round options, but these hurlers may be best left for 2021.
Red Sox Pitchers
Already piecing together their 2020 staff, the Red Sox weren’t dealt a favorable hand from the schedule maker. Boston plays the majority of their tough division matchups (Yankees, Rays) on the road, and the club has six non-division games against the 2019 NL East Champs from Atlanta. Additionally, they play the only bottom-dweller in the NL East (Marlins) just three times. Brandon Workman may not have many save chances this summer.
Seattle has arguably the toughest slate in the Majors, and their hitters are facing an especially tough road. The club does not get to play at Coors Field, and seven of their 10 games against the Rangers come at Safeco Field. They will play very few games at hitter-friendly parks and will also regularly face quality pitching staffs on teams such as the Astros, Dodgers and A’s. Although youngsters such as Jake Fraley and Kyle Lewis have breakout potential, their schedule hasn’t done them any favors.
A schedule that plays well for Arizona pitchers does the opposite for their hitters. The club plays six non-division games against a tough Astros pitching staff and plays seven of their 10 contests against each of the Padres and Giants at offense-suppressing road venues. Arizona supplied plenty of offense in 2019, but their centerpieces such as Eduardo Escobar and Ketel Marte will have to work extra hard for a repeat performance.