Blue Jays' season starts and ends challengingly

Toronto's 'home field' still to be decided by Canadian government

July 7th, 2020

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will open their 2020 season on July 24 in St. Petersburg against the Rays, and they’ll be challenged right out of the gate to prove themselves over the shortened 60-game schedule.

Their Opening Day, a Friday, comes with a 6:40 p.m. ET first pitch, which kicks off a three-game series against Tampa Bay before the Blue Jays face the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals for a split four-game series. The clubs will play a pair in Washington first before moving to Toronto’s home field for another two, beginning with the Blue Jays’ home opener.

A challenging start is matched with a challenging stretch run, though, so the Blue Jays will either need to get hot on one end or play some great baseball in between. Ten of the Blue Jays’ final 19 games are against the Yankees (seven at home, three on the road), making up half of their final six series. In that stretch they’ll also face the Mets at home and the Phillies on the road, with a three-game series against the Orioles at home to close out the season, which ends on Sept. 27.

That series against the Mets could involve facing old friend Marcus Stroman, who the Blue Jays dealt to New York in 2019 after he spent his entire career in Toronto. The Blue Jays' Interleague Play comes against the NL East, as divisions are facing their regional opposites this season to reduce extensive travel, so those Mets and Nationals games will be joined by series against the Braves, Phillies and Marlins.

If there’s one stretch that will still qualify as the “dog days of summer” for the Blue Jays, it comes between Aug. 21 and Sept. 9, when they are set to play games on 20 consecutive days, including trips to St. Petersburg, Miami and Boston. That is the maximum number of games allowed on consecutive days.

Toronto’s home night games on weekdays and Saturdays feature a 6:37 p.m. ET first pitch in 2020, a half-hour earlier than their standard 7:07 p.m. ET starts, with Sunday afternoon home games scheduled for 3:07 p.m. ET.

The one remaining variable for the Blue Jays is whether “home” means Toronto or Dunedin, Fla.

The Blue Jays’ schedule will remain the same regardless of where they play their home games, which still hasn’t been finalized. The Canadian government granted an exemption to allow the Blue Jays to run their Summer Camp out of Toronto, but the regular season is a separate conversation given the added challenge of having road teams come in and out of the country while the Canada-U.S.A. border remains closed to non-essential travel.

“While no final decision has been made on a site for Blue Jays regular-season home games, the club’s preference remains Rogers Centre,” the club said in a press release on Monday. “The team continues to pursue this option with the health and safety of the general public and the team at the forefront, and will communicate an update as information becomes available.”

Speaking on Thursday, club president and CEO Mark Shapiro said that he hoped to have clarity on that front within seven to 10 days, given the planning that would be required to prepare for the start of the season and beyond.

The Blue Jays will not play any exhibition games against other clubs in the lead up to Opening Day, but plan to play intrasquad games at Rogers Centre to fully prepare for the season.