The 2020 MLB schedule has arrived. Major League Baseball revealed the 60-game schedule Monday night during a live MLB Network broadcast. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced MLB to play a shortened season -- 60 games will be tied for the shortest MLB season ever with the 1877 campaign -- though the postseason will remain the standard 10-team format.
To reduce travel among the pandemic, all 30 clubs will play 40 games against their division rivals plus 20 total games against the corresponding geographic division in the other league (East vs. East, Central vs. Central, West vs. West). The unbalanced schedule is not fair, necessarily, but nothing about this year has been fair. MLB is doing the best it can with the schedule.
The MLB schedule reveal doesn't carry quite the same weight as the NFL or college football schedule reveal, especially this year because we already know the breakdown, but that doesn't mean we aren't looking forward to specific matchups. Here are eight series we can't wait to see during the 60-game mad dash, listed chronologically.
1. July 23-26: New York Yankees at Washington Nationals
MLB is not messing around. They want to generate as much intrigue as possible following the shutdown and pitting the Yankees, a legitimate World Series contender and also THE YANKEES, against the defending World Series champs on Opening Day is a good way to do it. The Yankees will be in Washington to begin the season. Gerrit Cole will presumably make his Yankees debut that night and be opposed by Max Scherzer. The two were supposed to face off in Game 5 of the World Series last year, before Scherzer's neck acted up. Better late than never though. Cole vs. Scherzer to begin the season is as good as it gets.
2. July 24-26: Colorado Rockies at Texas Rangers
There is nothing special about this matchup -- the Rangers and Rockies have basically zero history -- but the opening series will be the first ever series at the new Globe Life Field in Arlington. Joey Gallo recently told reporters the new ballpark is "playing big as hell" during batting practice, which would be the polar opposite of the team's old digs. Globe Life Park was a hitter's haven. Globe Life Field may be the opposite. We'll get our first taste of the world's largest Home Depot in a little more than two weeks.
3. Aug. 14-16: Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels
The 2020 edition of the Freeway Series will kick off in mid August and never before has it been this star-studded. Reigning MVPs Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger will be joined by former MVP Mookie Betts, World Series champion Anthony Rendon, and incumbents like three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, inner-circle Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, rising star Walker Buehler, all-world defender Andrelton Simmons, and FAR (Fun Above Replacement) king Shohei Ohtani. Five former MVPs (Betts, Bellinger, Kershaw, Pujols, Trout) totaling nine awards will be on the same field this series. If that's not a record, it has to be damn close.
4. Aug. 21-23: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants
For the first time in his career, Madison Bumgarner may pitch in Oracle Park as a visiting player this season. He left the Giants and signed a five-year contract with the D-Backs over the winter -- Bumgarner reportedly left money on the table to go to Arizona -- and will now face his longtime employer as a division rival. The D-Backs will play seven games split across two series in San Francisco this year and, with any luck, Bumgarner will line up to pitch at least one of those seven games. Unfortunately for the Giants faithful, the universal DH means they won't get to see him hit. He'll pitch only.
5. Aug. 28-30: Oakland Athletics vs. Houston Astros
Welcome back to Houston, Mike Fiers. Fiers blew the whistle on the Astros and their 2017-18 sign-stealing scheme over the winter and the result was an unprecedented punishment that, among other things, cost manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow their jobs. It's unclear whether fans will be allowed into the ballpark at this point -- Texas is pushing to fill stadiums to 50 percent capacity -- but, if they are, they figure to give Fiers the business. Of course, Fiers may not even pitch this series, but chances are he'll run into his former team at some point in 2020. There will not be much love lost that series.
6. Aug. 31 to Sept. 2: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins
I have this series circled on my calendar. The Twins are the defending AL Central champions and the preseason favorite to win the division again this year. The White Sox are an up-and-coming club with a ton of young talent (Lucas Giolito, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, etc.) looking to make the leap from rebuilder to contender. This series, a three-gamer on the road in Target Field, will be something of a measuring stick for the young ChiSox. Should be fun. (The Twins and White Sox open the season with three games at Guaranteed Rate Field, though the Target Field series is the one that most has my attention.)
7. Sept. 8-10: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
The NL Central has serious chaos potential this season. Sportsline projects four of the five teams in the division in the 31-33 win range (sorry, Pirates). There is no powerhouse team in the NL Central -- the other five divisions all have at least one team projected for 35-plus wins -- and that could create a lot of excitement down the stretch. I'm singling out the Reds at Cubs here because Nick Castellanos will return to Wrigley Field as a visiting player this year. He was a rock star in his two months with the Cubbies last season, hitting .321/.356/.646 with 16 home runs in 51 games, but the club never made much of an effort to re-sign him. Now Castellanos is playing for a division rival.
8. Sept. 12-13: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers
In the Before Times, the Astros were set to face an ugly road schedule heavy on boos and jeers and novelty garbage can bangs in the aftermath of the sign-stealing scandal. Perhaps no team should feel more aggrieved than the Dodgers, who lost the 2017 World Series in seven games to Houston. There's unlikely to be fans in the stands for this series, so the Astros will get off easy there, but this series will be the first time the Astros will face a team so heavily impacted by their sign-stealing transgressions. Fireworks? Maybe! Even if not, these two games will feature two very good teams and should be fun. (The Dodgers will be in Houston from July 28-29. It will be their first road series of the season.)
Bonus: The Final Weekend
In a short 60-game season teams will have less time to create separation in the standings. That means when the final weekend comes around, the various postseason races could be very tight, and a lot could be on the line. Here are the matchups for the final weekend of the 2020 regular season:
- Angels at Dodgers
- Astros at Rangers
- Brewers at Cardinals
- Cubs at White Sox
- Mariners at Athletics
- Marlins at Yankees
- Mets at Nationals
- Orioles at Blue Jays
- Padres at Giants
- Phillies at Rays
- Pirates at Indians
- Reds at Twins
- Red Sox at Braves
- Rockies at Diamondbacks
- Tigers at Royals
That Tigers-Royals series may not look all that important now, but who knows? Weird things happen in small sample sizes and one or both clubs could be vying for a postseason spot come the final weekend. It would be a lot of fun. MLB could use a Cinderella story or two this season. Otherwise the Angels-Dodgers, Braves-Red Sox, Brewers-Cardinals, Cubs-White Sox, Mets-Nationals, and Phillies-Rays stand out as series with postseason berths potentially on the line.