Three of the five NL East teams will be shut down at points this week.
Instead of playing the Yankees four times Monday through Thursday, the Phillies are off in the aftermath of the Marlins' coronavirus breakout this past weekend while playing at Citizens Bank Park.
The Marlins, after having half of their 30-man roster reportedly test positive for COVID-19, won't play all week.
That also means the Nationals, who were scheduled to face the Marlins this weekend, will be off.
Less than a week into the season and things have already been thrown off drastically. If you weren't a believer before that MLB could get through the 60-game season ...
Health is obviously the most important factor in all of this, but it's fair to also wonder what will happen to the competitive balance of baseball after its first regular-season outbreak.
It will be impossible (and pointless) for the Marlins to make up all the games they lost. They will have to replace half of their roster and some or many of those replacements will be players who wouldn't otherwise be in the big leagues in 2020. Why even make them play doubleheaders? Every team that does play the Marlins over the next few weeks will be playing the equivalent of a minor-league team. No, the Marlins didn't have a juggernaut roster before this, but they still had mostly big-league-quality talent.
The Phillies, if they lose only four games, will either have to make them up down the road or finish with 56 games and have their record interpreted based on winning percentage. What then if the Phillies tie in winning percentage with another team for playoff positioning? Does the tiebreaker go to the team that played four more games, even if circumstances outside the Phillies' control resulted in them playing fewer games? MLB previously announced that there will be no tie-breaker game(s) this year — head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker when applicable.
"After thinking about it, I think this could happen more than one time with an organization," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said on MLB Network Radio Tuesday. "If everyone doesn't play 60 games, that's all right. We want to get to the playoffs. If a team plays 57 games, you go by winning percentage to take the playoff teams."
If the Phils do end up making up the lost games this week, they would do so with either doubleheaders or by losing future off days, or both. Keep in mind that three of the Phillies' six scheduled off-days come in the one-week span from Aug. 17-24 during their road trip to Boston, Atlanta and Washington. There is only one common off-day during that week shared by the Phillies and Yankees.
Either solution will harm the Phillies' pitching staff. If they play doubleheaders, it would necessitate using starting pitchers who wouldn't have otherwise been in line to start.
But the time off this week allows the Phillies to reset their rotation this weekend and use Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler for four of their first five games, you might say. That certainly is a benefit because the Phillies' weakness is their pitching staff after those two. But consider also that the week off throws off the schedule of those two, and it's not as if they needed the long breather after having nine months off from regular-season play. It also further delays the season debuts of Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin, who need to work off some rust.
The time off also could affect the timing of Phillies hitters. The Phillies had a decent opening weekend offensively with six homers, an .841 OPS and more walks (19) than strikeouts (18), but their situational struggles overshadowed all of that. In the opening weekend, the Phils went 3 for 22 with runners in scoring position and left 26 men on base in the series loss to Miami. They stranded the bases loaded three times Sunday. How will they look this weekend after another extended stretch without games that you typically only see during MLB's All-Star break?
One issue that has apparently already been resolved is of player pay. Players on the Phillies, Yankees and Nationals will still make their prorated pay for the games those teams missed because of the Marlins' outbreak, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark. MLB rightfully deemed the circumstances outside of those teams' control.