Baseball is back.
The MLB and the MLBPA finally agreed to terms to return to play after the coronavirus pandemic caused the league to pause in mid-March. Then both sides were mired in three months of economic negotiations. It was filled with fits and starts that left even the most hope-springs-eternal fan disheartened.
Baseball is back … but in the words of Harry Doyle in Major League II, “sort of.”
Big changes for shorter season
Much like everyday life, Major League Baseball will look a lot different this season.
Here’s a rundown on the biggest changes for baseball:
- Season shortened to 60 games.
- Players return to “spring” training on July 1. Season starts July 24 or July 25.
- The proposed schedule will mostly feature divisional play. The rest of the schedule will be teams’ opposite league’s corresponding geographical division to limit travel.
- A universal designated hitter. Pitchers will no longer hit in the National League.
- At the start of every half inning in extra innings, a baserunner will be placed on second base.
- At the start of the season, teams can have 30 players on their active roster. It drops to 28 after two weeks and 26 after four weeks.
- What if a player tests positive for COVID? According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the league will have a COVID-19-specific inactive list. Players will land on it if they test positive or show symptoms. There is no predetermined amount of time for a player to sit out.
MLB 2020 betting preview
The 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals saw their odds wildly fluctuate last season.
They opened the season as a middle-of-the-road team at +2100 odds. On June 17, with a 33-38 record, their odds sunk to a season-low +5500.
Teams won’t have the luxury of turning it around after a slow start during the abbreviated 2020 season. But PA betting apps have revised odds based on the new season plans.
MLB World Series Favorites at FanDuel Online Sportsbook:
- Los Angeles Dodgers: +380
- New York Yankees: +400
- Houston Astros: +800
- Atlanta Braves: +1400
- Minnesota Twins: +1600
DraftKings Online Sportsbook favorites for American League winner:
- New York Yankees: +175
- Houston Astros: +350
- Minnesota Twins: +800
- Tampa Bay Rays: +800
- Cleveland Indians: +1,100
DraftKings National League winner odds:
- Los Angeles Dodgers: +170
- Atlanta Braves: +600
- Washington Nationals: +750
- New York Mets:+900
- St. Louis Cardinals: +900
Philadelphia Phillies 2020 season preview
The Phillies started last season with big expectations but finished fourth in the National League East with a record of 81-81. They haven’t finished with a record better than .500 or made the playoffs since 2011. The Phillies fired manager Gabe Kapler and brought in former Yankees skipper Joe Girardi to hopefully return the Phils to the postseason.
The Phillies added right-hander Zack Wheeler and shortstop Didi Gregorius to a roster that already features Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins.
Good news: Harper had 35 HRs and 114 RBIs last year. Jean Segura led the team in batting average (.280) and doubles (37). Aaron Nola tossed 212 innings and posted a 3.87 ERA.
Bad news: Jake Arrieta has battled through injuries the past two seasons. As a result of a regional schedule, the Phillies have a tough slog. They play 10 games apiece against the Nationals (World Series champions) and the Atlanta Braves (winners of the NL East the past two years). They will also play against the AL East, which is home to the Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. The Phillies’ schedule is as brutal as it looks.
Phillies 2020 betting preview
Philadelphia Phillies 2020 World Series odds:
- FanDuel: +2500
- DraftKings: +2000
Philadelphia Phillies National League winner odds:
- FanDuel: +1300 (FanDuel odds boost: Phillies to win the National League boosted from +1300 to +1800)
- DraftKings: +1100
- BetRivers: +1100
Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 season preview
New leadership takes command after the Pirates fired manager Clint Hurdle and GM Neal Huntington.
Derek Shelton and Ben Cherington step into the respective roles hoping to right a sinking ship after a second-half collapse plummeted the Pirates to last place in the NL Central.
They will have to do it without Gold Glove-winning outfielder Starling Marte, who was traded in the offseason.
Good news: Josh Bell hit 37 home runs last year and had a .936 OPS. Rookie outfielder Bryan Reynolds hit .314. Fellow rookie Kevin Newman had a respectable debut, hitting .308 with 64 RBIs.
Bad news: All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez is currently facing criminal charges and is no longer with the team. The Pirates are projected to finish last again.
Pirates Betting Preview 2020
Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 World Series odds:
- FanDuel: +10,000
- DraftKings: +10,000
- BetRivers: +10,000
Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 National League winner odds:
- FanDuel: +25,000
- DraftKings: +10,000
- BetRivers: +10,000