MLB is entering the final two weeks of the regular season, so you know what that means...playoffs! On Tuesday, the league officially announced its postseason schedule with plans for bubbles in California and Texas. Phoenix has been suggested as a back-up if the air quality in California proves to be too hazardous.
The top four seeded teams in each league will host a best-of-three Wild Card series in their home ballparks beginning on September 29 — two days after the regular season concludes. Once those have concluded, the playoffs will shift to the neutral sites in California and Texas for the Division Series and beyond. The NL will head to Texas with bubbles planned in Arlington and Houston, and the AL will head to California with bubbles planned in San Diego and Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium will be used). Teams in contention will start a “transition period” to quarantined hotels on September 22 for AL teams and September 23 for NL teams. During that time, 28 active roster players, 12 taxi-squad players, and 50 additional personnel must remain at the team’s transitional hotel or travel with the team on the road.
No playoff series will be played with a planned off day until the World Series — they will play straight through. Typically teams have had off days for travel, but with all teams in the same location, there is not need to accommodate for that. It will really test the strength of a team’s pitching, particularly in the longer best-of-five Division Series and best-of-seven Championship Series. Mark Feinsand explains that teams will have to decide whether to use a traditional five-man rotation or use four starting pitchers. With the latter, it could mean that as many as three of them would pitch on short rest.
The World Series will be hosted in the new Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX beginning on October 20 — the first neutral-site World Series in modern history. There are planned off days during the Fall Classic on October 22 (between Games 2 and 3) and October 27 (between Games 5 and 6). The 2020 season will end on October 28 if the World Series goes to seven games.
If the season ended today:
National League matchups
#3 Chicago Cubs/Atlanta Braves vs #6 St. Louis Cardinals
American League matchups
For the Rockies:
The Rockies are 22-25 (.468) and sit just a game behind the Cardinals for that eight seed, but Cincinnati sits in the ninth spot with their .480 winning percentage. As of Sunday, the Rockies had a roughly 25% chance of making the playoffs at all. After Tuesday’s slate of games, that chance is now 19.9% according to FanGraphs and 25% according to FiveThirtyEight.
With a schedule of the NL West-leading Dodgers, eighth seeded Giants, and last place Diamondbacks remaining, it could prove to be a tall order. But at least they don’t have to face the Padres again during the regular season.
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Ronald Blum explains what the transition into the MLB bubbles will look like, as well as what life might be like inside of them. Specifically, he outlines protocols for players’ families and quarantining procedures, among other things.
In order to follow these protocols, the Rockies must first make the playoffs. Nick Groke outlines five key steps that will help them get there:
- Find a hot bat — Ryan McMahon and Josh Fuentes are mentioned, and McMahon is detailed
- Set them, Free — Let Kyle Freeland pitch Game 1 of the playoffs if Germán Márquez ends up pitching the “win-and-they’re-in” game on the final day of the season.
- Bullpen whittled — Daniel Bard, Mychal Givens, and Yency Almonte make up the core that will be leaned on heavily to finish the season. Since they are the top three, they will see more responsibility, but they can’t be the only ones to step up.
- Giants falter — The Rockies have a four-game set against the Giants next week, who are in the eighth seed and 1.5 games ahead of the Rox. The Giants have some weaknesses that the Rockies could look to exploit, such as the third-worst bullpen in MLB and having to face the Padres for five games in three days to end the season after a COVID-related postponement last weekend.
- Nolan to the rescue — Even though Arenado is having a down year, if he can pick it up and go on a tear, he could carry this team to the playoffs by himself.
Rockies Nolan Arenado: “If we don’t make the playoffs, that’s not a very good sign” | Denver Post ($)
Speaking of Nolan Arenado, he spoke with the media on Tuesday and said two things: his shoulder is feeling better and that the Rockies have to play better, especially in a shortened season where eight teams make the playoffs. He said that they’ve had meetings, but didn’t know how much they would help going forward.
“I don’t know what meeting we could possibly have now,” he said. “It just a matter of going out there and doing it. It’s about looking at yourself in the mirror and I need to do the same. I need to look at myself in the mirror and do a better job.
“There is no one to blame. We’re a team but, we definitely need to look at ourselves in the mirror and make a change and find a way to help this team win because we haven’t done a very good job.”
Hopefully he’s on to something and the Rockies are able to turn it on down this final stretch of 2020.
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