Two aspects of the shortened 2020 season will hurt the Phillies: the static playoff field and the brutal MLB schedule format.
It was long believed that the postseason would be expanded from 10 teams to 16 this year. The playoffs are a huge moneymaker for MLB and more teams means more games means more revenue.
But MLB and the players' association were unable for months to work out a financial agreement, which led to the league unilaterally implementing a season. The expanded playoff field is a bargaining chip for the union and we will not see it in 2020. The playoff field will remain the same as it's been — three division winners and two wild-cards per league.
The Phillies, who are probably still a bit behind the Nationals and Braves, would have benefited from an eight-team playoff field in the NL. If you were to rank all 15 NL teams, the Phillies would probably check in between 5 and 8, behind at least the Dodgers, Nats, Braves and Cardinals.
What will also hurt the Phillies is their number of games against teams on the East Coast. In an effort to limit travel, MLB is keeping teams within their geographic regions. It means the Phillies will have heavy doses of the NL East and AL East, which might be the two toughest divisions in baseball.
In the NL East, the Nationals, Braves and Mets are threats. In the AL East, the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox are threats. The Phillies are set to play 42 of their 60 games against those teams.
Plan is for teams to play 40 games in division and 20 games interleague with their geographic counterpart (East vs. East, etc.) #MLB— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 24, 2020
The Yankees have the deepest roster in the American League — power, good starting pitching, great bullpen. They won 103 games last season then signed Gerrit Cole coming off a 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326-strikeout season.
The Rays won 96 games last season. Their top three starters — Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton — are as unhittable as any team's top three. Their bullpen is filled with hard throwers and big-time bat-missers like Nick Anderson, Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo.
The Red Sox, even after trading away Mookie Betts, can still hit. The top half of their lineup — Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez — remains dangerous.
And then there are the defending champion Nationals with their three aces, the Braves with the two best position players in the NL East, and the Mets, who have won the season series against the Phillies in seven of the last eight years.
Those six teams — Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Nats, Braves, Mets — won an average of 93 games last season. Boston (Betts) and Washington (Anthony Rendon) each lost a perennial MVP candidate but the other four teams have either improved or maintained.
Hey, at least the Phillies get the Marlins and Orioles, too. Maybe the Phils will actually clean up against the Fish this year.
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