Major League Baseball is coming back! The Major League Players Association and MLB owners have finally come into agreement and will play 60 games. The season is set to start on either July 23 or July 24. Teams will play 40 games within their own division along with 20 games against teams in their opposite division.
This is all in an effort to reduce the amount of travel for teams and to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The realigned schedule and shortened season will bode well for some teams but will hurt others’ chances at a World Championship in 2020
Teams Helped by a Shortened Season
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa has shown in the past that they can be the best team in the game over long stretches. An abbreviated season gives the Rays an opportunity to blitz their way to the top spot entering the playoffs.
Backed by a solid rotation that includes Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Brendan McKay, the Rays can easily pitch their way to glory. In addition to a star-studded rotation, the Rays’ strong bullpen is going to be instrumental in Tampa’s success.
Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto is arguably the most exciting young team in the MLB this year. The Blue Jays’ young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. began to turn heads in the second half of last year, and it appears they can continue their success into the future.
If the Blue Jay bats can start hot and new additions such as Hyun-Jin Ryu can consistently perform, then Toronto might be able to sneak into the playoffs.
New York Mets
The National League team helped the most by the addition of a designated hitter is the New York Mets. The Mets have a surplus of outfielders including injury prone Yoenis Cespedes. The veteran outfielder has been plagued with injuries and is better suited as a DH at this point in his career.
Put Cespedes with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and JD Davis and the Mets look dangerous at the dish. A potent lineup combined with the best pitcher in the league, Jacob DeGrom, could make the Mets a serious contender.
Mike Trout finally has a shot to make the playoffs…that is if the Angels’ starting pitching can do just enough. The Angels made a big splash in the offseason signing Anthony Rendon but failed to beef up their rotation.
Shohei Ohtani will rejoin the rotation after recovering from Tommy John surgery. If the LA pitching staff and bullpen are able to hold their own, then the Angels’ offense could be able to push them into the playoffs and even beyond.
The middle of the road Brewers keep finding ways to get into the playoffs. It does help when perennial MVP candidate Christian Yelich goes on a tear, but on paper, the rest of their team is about average.
In previous years, Milwaukee has started hot out of the gate but suffered a losing streak in the middle of the year, and then eventually rebounding and making the playoffs. This season does not give the Brewers an opportunity to swoon in the middle of the season. Instead they are positioned for a blitzing run into October.
Teams Hurt by a Shortened Season
New York Yankees
Yes, the New York Yankees are hurt by a shortened season. There are a lot of risk/reward players on the Yankee roster. This, coupled by a possible lack of free agents or trade options to replace injured players, may hold the Yankees back if/when injuries occur.
On top of all this, Aaron Boone is not the best manager in the league, and he may have issues trying to both rally his team during a possible struggle as well as making the right moves for instant success in a short season. Still expect the Yanks to make the playoffs, but just not as a run-away division champion.
The Cubs are a complex team at this point. Just four short years ago the Cubs were finally World Champions and there were talks of a possible “super-team” being formed on the Northside of Chicago. Ever since then, the Cubs have disappointed in terms of winning championships.
Although the Cubbies still have their core of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez, they have not been able to put it together. The Cubs have also started slow the last few years, and even after a change at manager, their slow starts and below average pitching will catch up with them in a shortened season.
St. Louis Cardinals
Like the past few Cubs teams, the Cardinals have been starting slow and relying on other NL Central teams to do the same. Although they look good on paper, the Cardinals do not have a bonafide number two starter behind Jack Flaherty.
The Cardinals’ success falls onto the shoulders of their veteran hitters and the back-end of their rotation. There is a good chance the Cardinals join the Cubs with a slow start that they cannot recover from. Look out for the Brewers and Reds to take the top spots in the NL Central.
The Diamondbacks have been the picture of mediocrity recently, as they have rarely been two games over .500. The D-backs have not been on a long winning or losing streak when it mattered in what seems like forever.
Even with the new addition of outfielder Starling Marte, Arizona looks extremely similar to last year. Expect the team to finish a bit below .500, as they will not be able to get it together enough to push for anything major.
Well, it looks like Houston Astros players will end up getting drilled by fastballs after all this year. Aside from that, the Astros will be looking for answers from their starting pitching come opening day.
With the loss of Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander just beginning his rehab from March groin surgery, Houston will be looking at players like Lance McCullers Jr. to step up. It will also be interesting to see how well the Astros’ hitters will perform post-scandal.
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