The 2020 MLB season is going to be anything but normal.

Just 60 games on the schedule, a universal DH, bans on spitting and high fives, a runner on second in extra innings, no fans in the stands… has it sunk in yet? Oh, well. Weird circumstances or not, baseball is still baseball. If the sport makes it to Opening Day while creating a safe environment for those involved, there will still be much to get excited about once the games start being played.

USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale reported Thursday that the league won’t officially announce the 2020 schedule for another 10 to 14 days. However, the basic format has already been made public:

-60 total games, with 40 against each team’s own division and another 20 against the opposite league’s corresponding geographic division

-Teams will play 10 games apiece against their division rivals, six games against their opposite league rival and either three or four games against the other four teams from that division

-Opening Day will be either July 23 or 24 with the regular season wrapping up Sept. 27

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What does that mean for the Nationals? In addition to 10 games each against the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins, they’ll also play the Baltimore Orioles six times and the other four AL East teams either three or four depending on scheduling.

That may be tough to visualize, so let's take a look at a mock schedule to see how things would play out.

 

Day of Week

Date

Road

Home

Thursday

23-Jul

Nationals

Yankees

Friday

24-Jul

Nationals

Yankees

Saturday

25-Jul

Nationals

Yankees

Sunday

26-Jul

Nationals

Yankees

Monday

27-Jul

Nationals

Mets

Tuesday

28-Jul

Nationals

Mets

Wednesday

29-Jul

Nationals

Mets

Thursday

30-Jul

OFF DAY

Friday

31-Jul

Braves

Nationals

Saturday

1-Aug

Braves

Nationals

Sunday

2-Aug

Braves

Nationals

Monday

3-Aug

Blue Jays

Nationals

Tuesday

4-Aug

Blue Jays

Nationals

Wednesday

5-Aug

Blue Jays

Nationals

Thursday

6-Aug

Blue Jays

Nationals

Friday

7-Aug

Marlins

Nationals

Saturday

8-Aug

Marlins

Nationals

Sunday

9-Aug

Marlins

Nationals

Monday

10-Aug

OFF DAY

Tuesday

11-Aug

Nationals

Phillies

Wednesday

12-Aug

Nationals

Phillies

Thursday

13-Aug

Nationals

Phillies

Friday

14-Aug

Nationals

Red Sox

Saturday

15-Aug

Nationals

Red Sox

Sunday

16-Aug

Nationals

Red Sox

Monday

17-Aug

Nationals

Orioles

Tuesday

18-Aug

Nationals

Orioles

Wednesday

19-Aug

Nationals

Orioles

Thursday

20-Aug

OFF DAY

Friday

21-Aug

Phillies

Nationals

Saturday

22-Aug

Phillies

Nationals

Sunday

23-Aug

Phillies

Nationals

Monday

24-Aug

Mets

Nationals

Tuesday

25-Aug

Mets

Nationals

Wednesday

26-Aug

Mets

Nationals

Thursday

27-Aug

OFF DAY

Friday

28-Aug

Nationals

Rays

Saturday

29-Aug

Nationals

Rays

Sunday

30-Aug

Nationals

Rays

Monday

31-Aug

Nationals

Marlins

Tuesday

1-Sep

Nationals

Marlins

Wednesday

2-Sep

Nationals

Marlins

Thursday

3-Sep

Nationals

Marlins

Friday

4-Sep

Nationals

Braves

Saturday

5-Sep

Nationals

Braves

Sunday

6-Sep

Nationals

Braves

Monday

7-Sep

OFF DAY

Tuesday

8-Sep

Braves

Nationals

Wednesday

9-Sep

Braves

Nationals

Thursday

10-Sep

Mets

Nationals

Friday

11-Sep

Mets

Nationals

Saturday

12-Sep

Mets

Nationals

Sunday

13-Sep

Mets

Nationals

Monday

14-Sep

Orioles

Nationals

Tuesday

15-Sep

Orioles

Nationals

Wednesday

16-Sep

Orioles

Nationals

Thursday

17-Sep

OFF DAY

Friday

18-Sep

Nationals

Phillies

Saturday

19-Sep

Nationals

Phillies

Sunday

20-Sep

Nationals

Phillies

Monday

21-Sep

Nationals

Phillies

Tuesday

22-Sep

OFF DAY

Wednesday

23-Sep

Marlins

Nationals

Thursday

24-Sep

Marlins

Nationals

Friday

25-Sep

Marlins

Nationals

Saturday

26-Sep

Braves

Nationals

Sunday

27-Sep

Braves

Nationals

In this scenario, the Nationals play 30 games at home and 30 games on the road with seven off days and no road trip longer than 10 days. All games on each road trip would be within relative proximity of each other, limiting the amount of travel required between each series.

Washington would open the season with a four-game series against the Yankees, giving MLB a marquee matchup to promote in the weeks leading up to Opening Day. Four of its first eight series would feature interleague play, leaving a bulk of the divisional games for down the stretch when every win is going to feel paramount.

Most of the Nationals’ series would consist of either three or four games except for a pair of two-game series against the Braves that were required in order to even out the number of home and away games. Given the league’s reported preference to avoid two-game series as much as possible, the Nationals would also play an uneven number of home and away games against each opponent.

For example, they would play three (Phillies), six (Marlins), seven (Mets) and seven (Braves) home games against each respective division opponent. They would not have the chance to host the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays nor would they have to travel to host the Blue Jays. The only team that would see an even split would be the Orioles, with whom they’ll each host a three-game set.

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Outside of Opening Day, some notable dates would include July 28 (possibly Max Scherzer vs. Jacob deGrom), July 31 (home opener vs. Braves), Aug. 11 (first game against Bryce Harper and the Phillies), Aug. 28 (matchup with 2019 AL Wild Card-winning Rays), Sept. 16 (final game of interleague play vs. Orioles) and Sept. 27 (season finale vs. Braves).

The Nationals’ over/under for their final win total has been pegged at 33.5, which is equivalent to about 90.5 wins in a regular 162-game season. With the talented AL East on their schedule but a favorable number of home games against divisional opponents, there are certainly arguments to be made that the Nationals could fall on either side of that number with this schedule.

Either way, the 2020 season is going to bring a fresh batch of surprises that no other season could provide. If this mock schedule is any indication, there will be plenty of exciting baseball for Nationals fans to look forward to this year.

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