Major League Baseball unveiled its 2020 schedule on Monday night, revealing a campaign that begins with a two-game Opening Night slate on July 23.
The 2020 schedule kicks off with the Washington Nationals hosting the New York Yankees, after which, the Los Angeles Dodgers will take on their traditional rivals, the San Francisco Giants.
Regional Schedule Leads to Competitive Imbalances
As previously reported, the 2020 MLB season will see each team play just 60 games due to the coronavirus pandemic. Teams will play 10 games against each other club in their division and 20 games against five interleague opponents from the same geographic division.
Six of those interleague games will come against a natural geographic opponent: for instance, the Mets play the Yankees six times, but only have three games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. Divisional games are slightly unbalanced as well, as one team will host six of the 10 games in each matchup.
The Mets' 2020 schedule has officially been released 🙌
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 6, 2020
That inevitably leads to some competitive imbalances. Teams from different divisions competing for wild-card positions won’t play against each other, and won’t even have any common opponents. That could disadvantage teams in the east and west while benefitting wild-card contenders in the Central divisions.
Sportsbooks have already begun listing odds for Opening Night, along with projected starting pitchers.
In the opener, FanDuel Sportsbooks sees Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees as a -128 road favorite over Max Scherzer the Washington Nationals (+110). Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers come in as a -280 favorite over Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants (+235).
The remaining 26 teams will begin their 2020 schedules on July 24. Most books have yet to post odds for those games.
MLB Holding 2020 Season Under Threat of Coronavirus
While the 2020 MLB schedule represents an ambitious plan to cobble together a season during the COVID-19 pandemic, not everyone is happy with the details. Given the fact that fans in most locations won’t likely attend games during the season, and that many people are still staying at home during the day, some observers were surprised at the lack of days games included in the schedule.
Just more evidence that this return, all of it, is about recouping every dime and nothing else. https://t.co/cnf7hb3bUZ
— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) July 7, 2020
“Just more evidence that this return, all of it, is about recouping every dime and nothing else,” Boston Globe columnist Chad Finn wrote on Twitter.
There’s also the ongoing question of whether or not MLB will manage to finish its season in the midst of the pandemic. The 2020 schedule represents a best-case scenario, and there’s the possibility – if not the likelihood – that one or more teams could see their seasons interrupted by an outbreak that causes a significant number of infections on a single roster.
Some teams have already faced challenges in training camp due to the coronavirus. The Nationals canceled workouts on Monday while waiting for COVID-19 test results. Washington general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed that two Nationals players tested positive for the virus.