Top Takeaways from MLB's Revised 60-Game Schedule
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a schedule.
As expected, each club will play 60 contests, including 40 against divisional opponents and 20 against teams from the other league's corresponding division (American League East versus National League East, etc.).
Opening Day will be on July 23 and will feature two games: the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees visiting the defending champion Washington Nationals. Everyone else will kick things off July 24.
As we eagerly await the start of this delayed and truncated season, here are some initial takeaways from the schedule announcement.
Rangers Will Christen New Ballpark Against the Rockies
It'll be an odd sight with no fans in attendance, but the Texas Rangers will officially christen their new facility, Globe Life Field, when they host the Colorado Rockies on July 24.
It'll be the start of a five-game interleague homestand for Texas that will feature three games against the Rox and two against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
If nothing else, it'll allow the Rangers to get used to their shiny new yard before they head out on the road.
Mets Have Tough Start and Finish
The New York Mets play in the National League East, arguably baseball's deepest division, and they have the toughest early schedule to boot.
Based on their opponents' 2019 winning percentages (.571), the Mets get out of the gate with the hardest slate through Aug. 6, followed by the Pittsburgh Pirates (.568), Toronto Blue Jays (.567) and Diamondbacks (.560).
During that span, New York will play 13 games against the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and Nationals, all of whom are expected to compete for the postseason.
Reds Could Get out of the Gate Hot
On the other end of the strength-of-schedule spectrum, the Cincinnati Reds have the easiest schedule through Aug. 6 by opponents' 2019 winning percentage (.437), followed by the Chicago Cubs (.445) and St. Louis Cardinals (.445).
That could set up an intriguing dynamic in the already balanced NL Central with three potential contenders having the opportunity to start hot.
The Reds, in particular, already looked like an under-the-radar contender. Playing six of their first 10 games against the lowly Detroit Tigers should help their cause.
Shohei Ohtani Could Return to the Hill vs. Oakland
Those who've been waiting for two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani to return to the mound could get their wish during the Los Angeles Angels' opening four-game series in Oakland against the Athletics.
Nothing is official, but circle July 26 on your calendar.
That's the Halos' third game of the season, set to be broadcast on MLB Network, and it seems like a logical date for the 26-year-old to pitch in a big league game for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2018.
Madison Bumgarner Makes His San Francisco Return in Late August
Madison Bumgarner may or may not have left his heart in San Francisco, but the left-hander certainly left his share of fond memories.
After signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter, MadBum will make his return to Oracle Park when the Giants host the D-backs for a three-game set Aug. 21-23.
Expect a warm ovation from Giants fans who will surely never forget Bumgarner's postseason heroics, regardless of the uniform he's wearing.
Dodgers vs. Astros Dates Set
The matchup everyone has been waiting for will take place in two installments.
We're talking, of course, about the Dodgers versus the Houston Astros, who will meet for the first time since MLB slapped the 'Stros with a punishment for the sign-stealing scandal that helped them win the 2017 World Series over L.A.
First up, the two clubs will meet in Houston on July 28-29. Then, if you like boos, tune in Sept. 12-13 when the Astros visit the Dodgers.
Pop your popcorn.
Rangers Travel the Most, Brewers Travel the Least, Rox Face Altitude Challenge
Despite the regional nature of the schedule, there's a significant disparity in the number of miles teams will travel in 2020.
The Rangers are set to log the most miles at 14,706, followed by the Astros (13,954), Seattle Mariners (11,813), A's (11,363) and Rockies (11,332).
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers will travel the fewest miles at 3,962, followed by the Cubs (4,071), Tigers (4,615), Cardinals (4,616) and Reds (4,626).
Another interesting travel note: The Rockies will never play more than two consecutive series away from Coors Field, which could impact their ability to adjust to the altitude difference.
Yankees, Braves Finish Easy, Twins Have Easiest Schedule, Marlins Have Toughest
The Yankees and Braves were already expected to be serious contenders in 2020, and the final stretch of the 2020 schedule solidifies that notion.
Ten of the Yanks' final 25 games are against the Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins, who should be two of the softest opponents in baseball.
Likewise, the Braves finish with 10 of their final 20 games against the O's and Fish.
Overall, the easiest schedules by 2019 opponents' winning percentage belong to the Twins (.449), Indians (.451), Cardinals (.475), Chicago White Sox (.477) and Dodgers (.482). The hardest belong to the Marlins (.534), Angels (.534), Orioles (.532), Mariners (.531) and Rockies (.523).
Now, all that's left is to play ball.