MLB 2020 Season: Scattered thoughts on the Boston Red Sox schedule
Monday was a strange day around baseball with some teams struggling to even get on the field to practice due to a delay in COVID testing results, some players casting doubts on the viability of the season, and amid all of that the 2020 schedule being released. We laid out the actual schedule for you last night in the linked post, but didn’t really spend much time talking about the specifics. Let’s do that now, in bullet point form!
- In recent years, it has seemed that the start for Red Sox teams has been particularly instructive of what kind of season it’s going to be. There is a chance to get off to a solid start here with this schedule as the season begins with five straight games at home including the first three coming against the Orioles, arguably the worst team in all of baseball. In a 60-game season a hot start is potentially more important than ever, so getting some early momentum could be key.
- After the three-game set against the Orioles, Boston gets their first interleague matchup of the year with a home-and-home series against the Mets with two at Fenway and then two down in Queens. This is interesting A) because you don’t really see home-and-home series in baseball and B) because we don’t really see the Mets that often. In that first part at Fenway, there is a chance we see old friend Rick Porcello get a chance for a return ovation, too.
- I would venture to say that the biggest story with this Red Sox schedule is going to be how things break down between them and the Yankees. It was impossible to make it balanced with five games at home for each team in these divisional matchups unless you had more two-game series, and that’s not advisable for a schedule that should theoretically be limiting travel as much as possible. So, there was going to be imbalances, and the Red Sox are on the losing end against New York with the Yankees having seven home games against Boston compared to three the other way around. That is obviously unfair, but I would hesitate getting too worked up. That’s how things shake out with this weird, makeshift schedule and we just have to deal with the quirks. Plus, and to be frank, the Red Sox have much bigger issues that will hurt their chances to contend than how many times they have to go to the Bronx.
- The season obviously includes matchups against the NL East, which means the Red Sox play the defending champs. However, the Nationals are one of the NL teams Boston only plays once, with a three-game set at the end of August.
- If the Red Sox do get hot and find themselves in a playoff race at the end of the year, they have a little bit of a challenge at the end of the schedule. Over their last nine games they have three against the Yankees, three against the Orioles and then close things out with three against the Braves.
- There are 60 games for all teams over 66 days, which seems very condensed but is only a little moreso than a regular season, and probably about the same when you take out the All-Star Break. Still, there are only six days off and it’s worth noting that two of those for the Red Sox — August 3 and August 6 — come within a four-day span. That doesn’t seem great!
- That being said, they still do okay in terms of how many days in a row they have to play. Their longest stretch of games is 16 which comes August 6 through August 23. That’s a long stretch of baseball, of course, but consider that some teams have as many as 20 straight games on their schedule.
- It would appear to me at first glance that the September schedule is a touch easier than the schedule in late-July and August. I don’t think it’s a major, major difference but it’s worth considering since rosters will be larger for that early part of the year compared to going down to just 26 in September.
- In terms of mileage, the Red Sox find themselves right in the middle of the pack in baseball with the 16th most miles to be traveled on their schedule. The Rangers will travel the most — doesn’t seem great for a team right in the middle of a hot spot! — with the Brewers traveling the least.
- Speaking of hot spots, Florida is the hot spot on the Red Sox schedule and Boston has nine games traveling there. That is not ideal, of course, but if you are looking for a silver lining to that news it’s that seven of those games are in September. That’s not necessarily good news, but hopefully things can get settled down in that state by then and I suppose if you have to go to Florida it’s better to push that down the road as far as possible.
- Okay, not time for my rant. It seems silly to rant about something as stupid given the very real concerns with safety with this schedule and season in general, but that the Red Sox are starting their home games at 7:30 PM ET is making me lose my mind. Many teams — including the Rays, Marlins and Blue Jays — decided that since they don’t have to wait for fans to get out of work to get to the park, they’d start games earlier. Those three teams are starting games at 6:40 PM ET. The Red Sox went the other way to get more primetime action for NESN. It’s asinine and just about the most classic Red Sox move of all time. The number one complaint I get about baseball is that games just go too late. Call me crazy, but if this was really about giving the people what they need as Sam Kennedy has so often said, maybe don’t do the exact opposite of that with start times? Obviously this is a relatively small gripe and there is plenty of selfishness from me who wants to go to bed earlier not later, but still. Come on.