Doubleheaders can lengthen a shortened season. Implementing them in abundance could preserve—and damage—the integrity of the 2020 schedule.
“We’re all ready to take drastic measures to make this season happen, but there’s also certain things that will affect the product on the field,” says Dodger lefty Clayton Kershaw. “That’s what you have to be careful about.”
Modern MLB pitching rotations generally follow a five-day rotation—not a five-game—and a doubleheader-laden schedule with expanded rosters would likely call for additional starters to fill a rotation. An unpredictable schedule for relievers plays a factor too; if a closer is used in game one, they could easily be unavailable for game two later that day.
Perhaps there’s an argument that players just need to feel competitiveness to maintain a desirable on-field product. Pete Rose once said “I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” Doubleheaders aplenty would be far from routine, but this year is already far from routine no matter how the next few months go. The late Ernie Banks proclaimed doubleheaders as a delight: “Let’s play two!”
The virus still presents concern—and players with young families like Kershaw have good reason to be cautious. Nolan Arenado said of a provision-filled Arizona plan, “If it’s safe, I’m in.” Pete Rose probably didn’t have a global pandemic on his mind while speaking of gasoline suits either.
Bud Black said in late March, “I think all of us want to try to play as many games as possible to keep the integrity of winning a championship or getting into the playoffs.” If play indeed resumes this year, the validity of a 2020 World Champion can lie in how many games are played in a final total—but how much can you pack the schedule before that validity becomes too watered down?
The Year of the Doubleheader comes with pros and cons like any other proposal for baseball to return. At least as fans, seeing German Marquez and Jon Gray in an Opening Day doubleheader would give us a serious welcome back.
The Dodgers take the top spot with a Mookie Betts/Cody Bellinger combo. Colorado’s outfield ranks 17th—and CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder gives them a much higher ranking than last year’s outfielder WAR rankings (26th).
“Two good hitters out here in David Dahl and Charlie Blackmon,” says Snyder. He also mentions how the expansive outfield in Denver makes their fielding look less impressive: “It’s not like the thin air makes the outfielders faster, so they have to deal with more ground to cover and can’t get to as many balls.”
Arizona’s outfield ranks 10th, thanks in part to the addition of Starling Marte. Colorado ranks third out of five in the NL West.
The Rockies candidate: Ian Desmond. “In-game, Desmond is among the most attentive players in terms of picking up minute advantages,” says Thomas Harding.
If you’re an early riser in need of live baseball, you may just be in luck. Eleven Sports Network Taiwan is to the Rakuten Monkeys and Uni-President 7-11 Lions what AT&T SportsNet is to the Colorado Rockies. Empty-stadium games in Taiwan are being televised live on Twitter by Eleven Sports Taiwan—starting around 4 a.m. Mountain time.
Here’s another writeup on the Monkeys and Lions in Taiwan. The feature photo has baseball cheerleaders on top of a dugout—firing up the empty-stadium crowd.