With the MLB season just two short weeks away, it will be crucial for teams to get off to fast starts given the condensed format of this year’s regular season. Each series will be far more amplified — especially considering the fact that ⅔ of the games will be against divisional opponents.
The remaining 20 games will be interleague matchups between parallel divisions, which means the NL East will play the AL East, so on and so forth. Opening Day is slated to begin on July 23rd, with the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals playing host to the New York Yankees. Then, the nightcap will see the Los Angeles Dodgers face off against their divisional rivals, the San Francisco Giants.
The rest of the league will play the following day, as there are a slew of interesting matchups to keep an eye on as Opening Day inches closer and closer.
New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals
This series will be the perfect introduction to the 2020 season, as the co-favorites to win this year’s World Series, the New York Yankees, will look to play spoiler against the defending champion Washington Nationals. The Yankees are always a great team to have on primetime television to begin the season, as they’ll do a great job of setting the tone for what’s to come. At +375, only the Los Angeles Dodgers have better pre-season odds, as the Bronx Bombers were incredibly active in free agency once again.
They wound up signing all-star starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to a monster deal that will pay him $324 million over nine seasons — the fourth richest contract in Major League history. Meanwhile, the Nats had a drastically different looking off-season, as they lost gold glove third baseman, Anthony Rendon, to the Los Angeles Angels. Rendon was a mainstay in that Washington lineup last season — slashing .319/.412/.598 to go along with 34 home runs, and 126 runs batted in.
Consequently, the Nats saw their World Series odds dwindle to +1800, which is only 8th best in MLB.
Nonetheless, this will be a wildly entertaining series, as it features plenty of the league’s biggest stars.
We’re excited for this one.
Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets
This NL East showdown should loom large as the season progresses, as both teams have their eyes set on a division crown in 2020.
The Braves won the division last season — cruising to a 97-65 record. They boast a tremendous young core featuring the likes of Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, and Dansby Swanson — not to mention four time All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman. They return many of the same players from 2019, and should be the favorites to repeat as NL East champs.
However, the Mets finished last year on an absolute tear, and could very well retain that same momentum heading into 2020. Their roster is well constructed for a DH, which is one of the few rule changes for this season. They have plenty of hitting depth to help keep players fresh in what will be a sprint to the finish line, as little things like this will be crucial in a shortened season.
Moreover, their relief pitching will be much improved, as the addition of Dellin Betances will help fortify the backend of that bullpen. These two teams are most likely going to decide this year’s NL East race, so this will be a very important series to kick off the season.
Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox
Another divisional matchup, the incumbent divisional champion Minnesota Twins will have their hands full in 2020, as the up-and-coming Chicago White Sox will be one of baseball’s most improved teams. They were far and away one of the most active teams in free agency, as Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, and Edwin Encarnacion, will all play huge parts on this White Sox team. They’ll help supplement a roster loaded with young talent, which is why they have emerged as a dark-horse in the American League.
Believe it or not, the White Sox now have the ninth-best odds to win the World Series — a monumental jump from where they were last season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them right in the thick of things come late September, as this series will be pivotal in shaping the AL Central divisional race.