The 2020 MLB season is going to be strange, unique, and groundbreaking — assuming it happens, of course.
Players will begin reporting for Spring Training 2.0 at the start of July and play games later that month, barring any more cancelations because of the coronavirus.
Because this season will only be 60 games (or fewer, depending on health and outside issues), Major League Baseball is focusing its games on geography and rivalries.
Teams like the New York Yankees and New York Mets already have an interleague rivalry. But could the 60-game season help other teams form new interleague feuds for the future?
The 2020 MLB season will have a unique schedule format
Most of the 60-game formula is simple. The Houston Astros’ move to the AL West in 2013 solidified every division equally having five teams.
Forty of the 60 games will be against division opponents. In theory, the Yankees get 10 games each against the Blue Jays, Orioles, Red Sox, and Rays.
Fans of teams wanting to boo the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox after their respective cheating scandals likely would have needed to wait until 2021 regardless. It is not yet known if teams will allow fans in ballparks this year.
The other 20 games will be interleague matchups against geographically-friendly opponents. American League East Division teams will play teams from the National League East and so forth.
Traditional rivals like the Yankees and Mets will play extra games
Part of the 2020 MLB season’s interleague format involves rivals from different leagues playing six games against one another.
The New York Yankees, for example, will play six games against the rival Mets. In years where the Yankees didn’t play the NL East Division, the two teams played four games instead of a traditional six.
Counting the Subway Series, there are eight named interleague rivalries:
- The Beltway Series between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals.
- The Windy City Series between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
- The I-70 Series between the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals.
- The Freeway Series between the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.
- The Citrus Series between the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.
- The Border Series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins.
- The Bay Bridge Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants.
There is also an unnamed yearly series between the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. The same goes for a series between the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Will the 2020 MLB season lead to new interleague rivalries?
Twenty-two of the league’s 30 teams have natural rivals they’ll likely play six times during the 2020 MLB season.
What about the other eight teams, though? Baseball already found the answer to that question.
The Boston Red Sox play the Philadelphia Phillies in odd-numbered years and the Atlanta Braves in even-numbered years. The Toronto Blue Jays do the reverse with the same two NL teams.
In the West, the Houston Astros play the Colorado Rockies in even-numbered seasons and Arizona Diamondbacks in odd-numbered years. The Texas Rangers trade with the Astros every other year.
If Major League Baseball implements the six-game format for the teams that were supposed to play this year, like the Red Sox and Braves, it would definitely be interesting.
The Blue Jays and Phillies are two teams with bright young cores. Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper are poised to lead the sport into a new and successful decade.
Texas and Arizona are rising teams in their respective divisions. Boston’s J.D. Martinez and Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr.
As for Colorado and Houston … Rockies fans will get the pleasure of booing the Astros if those fans are allowed in. If not, they’ll get to boo from the comfort of their homes.
- All schedule information via NBC Sports