At long last, the 2020 MLB season is here. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced MLB to shorten the season to 60 games. There will also be a universal DH and a runner placed at second base to begin extra innings to speed things along. Embrace this weird. This season will be full of it.
- Date: Friday, July 24
- Time: 6:10 p.m. ET
- Venue: Great American Ballpark -- Cincinnati, Ohio
- TV: Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Ohio
- Stream: MLB.tv
Pitching matchup: Matthew Boyd vs. Sonny Gray
The lefty Boyd, age 29, has excellent stuff and enjoyed a tremendous start to the 2019 season. However, his results degraded badly down the stretch, and the Tigers will be looking for more consistency out of him in 2020. He's a potential trade candidate, given that Detroit almost certainly won't compete.
As for Gray, the veteran right-hander enjoyed an excellent renaissance season in Cincy last year. Reunited with his college pitching coach, Gray tweaked his approach and pitch mix and wound up registering a 2.75 ERA and 3.42 FIP across 31 starts. For his troubles, he wound up seventh in the NL Cy Young balloting and posted a career-best WAR of 5.6.
Storyline to watch: The Reds are all-in
The Reds over the last two offseasons have worked hard to position themselves as contenders in the NL Central -- a division crowded with likely contenders. That in some ways distinguishes them from the remainder of the division. New to the roster for 2020 is a quartet of likely core contributors: outfielder Nick Castellanos, infielder Mike Moustakas, outfielder Shogo Akiyama, and lefty starter Wade Miley. They're added to an already competitive-grade roster. Yes, the Cardinals, Cubs, and Brewers also profile as relevant, but none of those teams figures to be measurably better than Cincy. The schedule may provide a slight edge to the Reds, and that's largely because they get to face the Tigers six times. To say the least, the Reds need to take advantage of those opportunities.