After months of fighting, the MLB and MLBPA finally agreed on safety and testing protocol this past Tuesday, which led to Commissioner Rob Manfred implementing a 60-game schedule. In other words, baseball is coming back in late July.
I’m glad that the MLB will have a season, but I have so many unanswered questions. Unfortunately, some of them will not be answered when the season begins. Some things will have to play themselves out in order to find answers. For now, here are five questions I have for the upcoming season.
How Will COVID-19 Impact The Season?
This question has been brought to you by “Captain Obvious,” but it’s important to address. The coronavirus is still here and wreaking havoc. The mortality rate is not as high as initially predicted, but positive cases are still on the rise in some areas of the country. Some states like Texas, who opened its economy earlier than others, are now scaling back its opening phases. Once the season starts, there are going to be players who test positive. It’s inevitable. They should recover and the data supports that notion. The league will not stop for one player testing positive, but hypothetically, what if half a team tests positive? It’s likely they all recover, but will teams want to continue playing? Will this franchise even have enough players to field a team? The only thing we know is that we don’t know anything. All we can do is hope.
*For the rest of this article, let’s assume COVID-19 is contained and the entire season runs from start to finish.*
Will The Playoffs Expand To 16 Teams?
Baseball may be coming back for a 60-game regular season, but not every detail has been finalized, particularly, the postseason. As of now, the postseason will remain at 10 teams. However, in an interview with AP, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that he would be “available to discuss it” if there’s interest in postseason expansion. In an unprecedented season, I’m not opposed to adding three additional wild card spots in each league. It gives teams more hopes to keep fighting throughout the season if they stumble out of the gates.
Will The Universal DH Stay In The National League Forever?
One rule that’s been implemented for 2020 is the universal DH, meaning pitchers will not hit this year in the NL. Two words: Thank God. If you’re a baseball purist, turn away. It’s time to implement the universal DH. I don’t want to see pitchers come up to the plate to either strike out on three others or attempt a sacrifice bunt. It’s unnecessary and needs to change. Pitchers in high school and college don’t hit anymore and most pitchers never swing a bat in the minor leagues. With all due respect to Madison Bumgarner, pitchers should never pick up a bat again in the MLB.
Will The Runner On Second Cost Any Teams A Shot At The Playoffs?
In order to shorten extra-inning games and preserve player health, a runner will go to second base at the start of each inning. Call me “Middle Man Dan” because I’m both for and against this rule. In a 60 game season, teams don’t need to be playing 13-inning games in the first month. However, for game 59 with a spot at the playoffs on the line, I might break every window insight if my team missed out on the wild card because they lost a game in extra innings with a runner started on second in extra innings. My compromise would be to implement this new rule up until game 45, and then it goes back to normal from there on out.
Which Teams Are The Favorite To Win The World
When the dust has settled, who will be holding the “piece of metal” at the end of the season? In a shortened season, conventional logic will point to the teams with elite starting pitching or bullpen depth. Right off the bat, the Dodgers should be the favorite going into the season, which had the lowest combined ERA in 2019. It also doesn’t hurt to add Mookie Betts and Anthony Rendon to the lineup. Behind the Dodgers are the Yankees and Asterisks… I mean Astros. After those three times, the next tier includes the Twins, Nationals, A’s, and Braves. In theory, it’s anyone’s year, but if one of those seven teams don’t win it all, I’d be shocked.
What is your biggest question in regards to the upcoming MLB season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.