Twins' 2020 slate seems to favor Central champs

July 7th, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- In a meaningful sign that baseball season is rapidly approaching, the Twins released their 60-game schedule for the 2020 regular season on Monday evening, featuring 40 games against divisional opponents in the American League Central and 20 contests against National League Central opponents.

The Twins will begin their campaign with a trip to Chicago, where they will play the Cubs in a July 22 exhibition at Wrigley Field before officially opening the regular season at Guaranteed Rate Field against the White Sox on July 24 at 7:10 p.m. CT. The home opener will follow on July 28 at 7:10 p.m. against the Cardinals, christening the 60th season of Twins baseball in Minnesota.

All 60 games will be aired on both television and radio via the Twins' broadcast partners at FOX Sports North and the Treasure Island Baseball Network. FOX Sports North will carry 58 of the 60 regular-season broadcasts, and a pair of home games against the Indians (July 30 and Sept. 12) will be nationally televised on FOX.

The Twins play 10 games apiece against the White Sox, Royals, Tigers and Indians, in addition to an Interleague schedule that features six games against border rival Milwaukee, four each against the Pirates and Cardinals, and three against both the Cubs and Reds.

At first glance, several elements of this new schedule appear favorable to the Twins. Seven of Minnesota's 10 matchups against Cleveland, the Twins' top competition for the division crown, are slated to occur at Target Field. In addition, the Twins have four of their scheduled off-days in September, including two in the final week of the season. That unequal distribution of days off could make things more difficult in August, but it could also allow the Twins to be more rested for the postseason if they were to qualify.

"You try not to complain, because every team is dealing with really unique challenges and things that you’re just not used to dealing with," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "When you really look at our schedule, we can deal with everything on that schedule, and we can handle it, and we’re going to find ways to make it all work."

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In his analysis of the new schedules around Major League Baseball, MLB.com's Mike Petriello indicated that the Twins are among the teams most helped by the change in their regular-season schedule, behind the Reds and Cardinals.

For one, Minnesota's originally scheduled Interleague matchups against the NL West -- including four games against the Dodgers -- are now replaced by the NL Central. In addition, a half of the Twins' new schedule will come against the White Sox, Royals and Tigers, a trio of teams projected to finish at or below the .500 mark.

With that said, most of the schedule will be a grind for the Twins, with 36 games scheduled in a 37-day span from the home opener on July 28 to a contest against the White Sox on Sept. 2. The only off-day in that stretch will occur on Aug. 13, before the club plays 20 consecutive games. In some consolation, though, that 20-game stretch includes seven games against Kansas City and four against Detroit.

"I think our depth and I think some of the expanded rosters earlier in the year will help with this, and I know we’re also not alone," Baldelli said. "I know there are other teams that are working through things that are similar. Again, no complaints. We’re going to find a way to work through it and make it work."

The Twins also have a relatively favorable close to the schedule, in case they're still mired in a divisional chase at that point. They finish with five games at home, including two off-days, two games against the Tigers and a three-game set against Cincinnati to end the campaign.

Baldelli admitted on a call with reporters on Monday night that he and his staff don't yet have a good feel for how rest and recovery could work under this new schedule, or how much the club might need to dig into its depth on the 40-man roster and 60-man player pool. Much of that could be reactionary given the unprecedented nature of the season and the new schedule. In that regard, the Twins likely do boast the most depth in the AL Central to help endure the rigors of a more trying stretch of games.

Much of that strategizing is likely to occur in the days and weeks to come. But now, there's a public blueprint to anchor those discussions.

"We can talk about all of the different adjustments we can make -- we can pretend like we kind of know exactly how that's going to affect us on a micro scale, on a bigger-picture scale, on a 60-game-season kind of level," Baldelli said. "We don't really know. We can speculate, we can kind of try to project, we can try to use some sort of objective analysis, but we really don't know."