The long awaited arrival of baseball is finally here. July 23rd is opening day for the 2020 season and there is a huge slate for opening day. Perhaps the most exciting, the World Series champ Washington Nationals squaring off against the star-studded New York Yankees will be a battle of two of the best in the league and should be a great way to start the season up. While the MLB is finally returning once and for all, it will be unlike any season we have seen before. Many rule changes and schedule compromises have been made by the league as they have adapted to the rapidly changing Coronavirus threat.
The MLB has adopted a totally new format for the 2020 season. Instead of the normal 162 season the MLB has taken off 102 games down to 60 total games. The decision comes after a bout between the players union and league executives which finally ended with Rob Manfred enforcing the 60 game season which also includes pay cuts for players. Aside from the schedule change the MLB will now have a universal DH. While this is not a surprise, it is a bit sad for NL fans who love the hitting pitcher (me included), but seems the right move in balancing the two leagues of the MLB. This means the end for the likes of Bartolo Colon homers and much more, but the change was imminent.
For the 2020 MLB season I have highlighted two teams from each league that I am excited for that could be a dark horse in the playoffs.
National League - The NL is filled with sleepers and dark horses ready to make a run at the playoffs. Each division has at least three teams that in my opinion could could compete for a playoff spot. The Washington Nationals are my favorite to win the NL East and I think their roster is strong enough to push for yet another world series run. The Nats managed to hold on to Stephen Strasburg, but lost Anthony Rendon. Similar to the loss of Bryce Harper the Nats have done a great job of adding other pieces when their star has been lost to free agency. The Nats added Eric Thames to hold down first base while Ryan Zimmerman is out and have also retained most of their young pieces. The likes of Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Trea Turner alongside veterans Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg will lead the Nats on a second playoff run in 2020. Also from the National League is the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are loaded on the offensive side of the ball headlined by Eugenio Suarez who finished second in the home run race in 2019, along with Joey Votto and a deep pitching staff makes the Reds an exciting sleeper with lots of potential.
For our divisional previews for baseball 2020, check out Calvin and I's sports talk episode:
American League - From the american league there are two teams that excite me the most. The Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Angels had a great offseason, adding the most coveted offensive free agent Anthony Rendon. The addition of Rendon puts the Angels at the top of the league in terms of offense, and gives Mike Trout a great offensive compliment, leaving the Angels one or two good pitchers away from becoming World Series contenders. If the Angels have a hidden gem or if dual threat Shohei Ohtani becomes a full time ace I think the Angels have a strong chance to be playoff contenders. Also, the Tampa Bay Rays are similar to the Cincinnati Reds as they are very deep and have a lot of potential. Led by Blake Snell the Rays have a huge opportunity to do very well this postseason.