In the two months that have passed since Major League Baseball cancelled the remainder of Spring Training and delayed the start of the 2020 regular season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a multitude of possible scenarios have become public.
Although there were indications MLB was exploring having all 30 teams play in Arizona; and possibly keeping teams in respective Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues; or using Arizona, Florida and Texas as hubs; the reported preference is keeping as many clubs in their home ballparks as possible.
While there are several details to be ironed out in terms of how and where the regular season will be staged, there also is the factor of number of games. Near the end of March, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred conceded the league wouldn’t play a full 162-game season this year.
As the league prepares to submit a proposal to the MLB Players Association, it reportedly will call for an estimated 80-game season and teams playing within their geographic location, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:
A regular season beginning in early July and consisting of approximately 80 games. The number might not be exactly 80 — 78 and 82 are also possibilities.
The schedule would be regionalized: Teams would face opponents only from their own division and the same geographic division in the opposite league. An NL East club, for example, would face teams only from the NL East and AL East.
A 78-game schedule might look like this: Four three-game series against each division opponent and two three-game series against each non-division opponent.
The expected proposal would figure to entail the Los Angeles Dodgers facing the Houston Astros and other American League West opponents as part of Interleague play. That of course would be of particular interest, given their history in the 2017 World Series and Houston’s cheating scandal.
What is unclear but presumably likelihood to be included in any 2020 MLB schedule are more regular doubleheaders. Manfred indicated that requirement could lead to some games being shortened to seven innings or thereabouts.
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