10 quirks of the 2020 schedule

Plenty to dissect in this year's unprecedented 60-game slate

July 7th, 2020

The 2020 season will be unlike any baseball season we’ve ever seen before. That’s something that’s evident even by simply looking at the new 60-game schedule, which features matchups that are at varying times notable, atypical and at a different frequency than normal. With a regionally based slate designed to reduce travel (40 of a team's 60 games will come against divisional opponents, and the other 20 against the opposite league's corresponding geographical division), we’ll see some teams face each other more than they have in any prior season -- while others won't meet for the first time in a while.

Here are 10 quirks of the 2020 schedule:

• Teams won’t be traveling as much as normal this season, but they’ll still head out on the road. The Rangers will travel 14,706 miles with their schedule, the most of any team in 2020. This makes sense, with the Rangers being one of two Texas teams that also has to travel to Seattle, along with the Astros, who rank second with 13,954 miles. The Mariners or A’s had previously led the Majors in miles traveled in every season since 2011.

The Brewers will travel the fewest miles at just 3,962. It helps that both Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field are fewer than 100 miles from Miller Park.

• The Marlins will play 52 of their 60 games against teams that were at or above .500 last season, the most in the Majors. The Orioles and Blue Jays are tied for second with 46 each, and then the Braves are fourth with 44 and Mets fifth with 43. Those top three teams aren’t expected to be contenders, but the latter two are, so their schedules could come up big if they're battling for an NL Wild Card spot against, say, the D-backs (20 games against .500-or-better opponents).

The Dodgers and A’s, on the other hand, will each play just 17 games against teams that were at or above .500 last season, tied for the fewest in the Majors. Both of those totals are very likely to play a factor in playoff races.

• The Reds are the biggest beneficiaries of the new 2020 schedule, if we look at it in terms of strength of schedule. The Reds’ schedule got .012 easier in terms of opponent winning percentage with the new regionalized format. The NL Central was initially supposed to face the AL East this year in Interleague Play, but now will face the AL Central instead, which had a lower overall winning percentage in '19.

On the opposite side, the Mariners saw their schedule get harder to the highest degree, with an increase of .009 in strength of schedule. This is due in part to the fact that a higher percentage of their schedule will now be against the Astros, A’s and Angels.

• Opening Night and Opening Day feature three Interleague matchups, between the Yankees and Nationals, Tigers and Reds, and Rockies and Rangers. Of those six teams, three will be opening their season with an Interleague game for the first time: the Yankees, Nationals and Rockies. Of course, Interleague on Opening Day has only been possible since 2013, when the Astros moved to the American League, making it an even 15 teams in each league.

This is the second time we’ll have multiple Interleague matchups on Opening Day, along with 2016, which had Royals-Mets, Angels-Cubs and Tigers-Marlins.

The season also ends with seven Interleague series. Since Interleague Play expanded to occur throughout the season in 2013, there has yet to be a season with more than one Interleague series to close it out.

Two local rivalries will be on display in those series, amongst others, with the Angels ending at the Dodgers and Cubs ending at the White Sox.

• Seven teams drew the unlucky straw of having 20 consecutive games without an off-day on some portion of their schedule -- including three that will play 20 straight right out of the gate.

• If staying close to home presents any sort of edge in this unusual season, the Padres could enjoy a big leg up down the stretch. San Diego will leave the state of California just one time in September, for a three-game series at Seattle on Sept. 18-20. The Friars’ other road trips that month are at the Angels, A’s and Giants.

• The unprecedented 2020 season will not see a handful of matchups that were standards on the MLB calendar for over a century. That includes the Phillies and Pirates, who have played one another in their respective cities for 133 years running, dating back to May 1887. The Pennsylvania rivals won’t clash this year unless they meet in the postseason.

• The condensed schedule will also take away Friday day games at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, a North Side tradition that’s lasted even after lights were installed at Wrigley in 1988. It’s the first time in the Cubs’ long history that home matinees won’t be the standard way to kick off the weekend.

• The Dodgers are projected by many to be the class of the NL this year, but their schedule, oddly enough, will wrap up with an extended stretch against the AL West. Los Angeles has a six-game homestand to close the regular season, beginning with three games against the A’s and followed by a three-game Freeway Series against the Angels.

• And speaking of the Dodgers, we’ve seen them tangle with the Giants down the stretch many times for NL West supremacy -- but not this year. The fierce rivals will wrap up all 10 of their scheduled matchups before the calendar flips to September.