Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
There are still many potential roadblocks ahead and an air of uncertainty about the 2020 MLB season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the blueprint for what it could look like has reportedly come together.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the league will have a call with the owners on Monday. And if the proposal the league has outlined for the 2020 season gets approval from the owners, it will be presented to the players on Tuesday.
- A season, beginning around July 1, would be roughly 80 games, with 78 and 82-game seasons among the possibilities
- Teams would only play opponents in their own geographical area, meaning the Mets would face only teams from the NL East and AL East
- Teams would "open in as many home parks as possible" without fans in attendance, and be temporarily moved to their spring training site or another MLB ballpark if they aren't able to open at home
- An expanded playoff format would mean two added wild card teams per league, only one team automatically advancing to the division series (the team with the best record in each league), and a new "wild card" round where the two other division winners and four wild cards play best-of-three series.
- Expanded rosters of as many as "45 to 50" players
Here are five ways the above could impact the Mets...
Their schedule will likely be incredibly difficult
If the NL East and AL East are structured the same way they were in 2019 -- and Rosenthal's report suggests they will be -- the Mets and every other team in the NL East will be in for a rough road.
Per Rosenthal, a 78-game schedule for the Mets could mean four three-game series against each team in the NL East and two three-game series against each team in the AL East.
The above would mean 36 games against the contending Braves, Nationals, and Phillies (12 games each), and 18 games against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays (six games each).
The only expected respite for the Mets and other NL East teams will be the 12 games against the Marlins, six games against the Blue Jays, and six games against the Orioles. The Red Sox will be weakened without Chris Sale and Mookie Betts, though, so that could be key.
Compare that to teams in the NL Central (whose AL Central foes are likely to be easier than the AL East foes) and NL West (whose division features three expected non-contenders and who get to play the AL West, with three more expected non-contenders), and it could be tough sledding for all the contenders in the NL East in 2020.
The loss of Noah Syndergaard could be softened, for two reasons
Being without Syndergaard will still hurt, but a 78- or 82-game season should be easier to navigate without him than a full season would've been.
The first reason is that the Mets will have only 15 or 16 starts to fill with a lesser pitcher instead of 32 or 33.
The second reason is that with expanded rosters, the Mets should be in much better position to quickly turn to the bullpen (even if the number of pitchers on a roster is capped, which it likely will be) for early help. And if Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia rebound, the two of them -- paired with a dominant Seth Lugo -- could turn most games into six-inning affairs.
It would be easy to carry Yoenis Cespedes and even Jed Lowrie
Before the season was paused, Cespedes was making steady progress, needing only to run the bases at full speed (he was already running to first base at full speed) and run and cut in the outfield in order to demonstrate that he was ready for game action and a spot on the roster.
With rosters now going from 26 to potentially 45 or more, it will be easy to carry Cespedes even if he's only available to pinch-hit. And the potential of a universal DH in 2020 could make things even more advantageous for the Mets.
Meanwhile, as crazy as it might sound, Jed Lowrie (huge knee brace and all) could also find himself on the roster.
Prospects who are close could take the next step right away
It's not yet clear what will happen with the 2020 minor league season, but it's possible it will be scrapped entirely, which would be incredibly unfortunate for both the players and the teams.
If the minor league season is indeed canceled, minor leaguers could potentially play intrasquad games, but ones who are close to ready developmentally could get the call to the majors due to expanded rosters.
For the Mets, players who are close and could get a near-immediate look include pitchers Franklyn Kilome, Jordan Humphreys, David Peterson, Kevin Smith, and Ryley Gilliam, infielder Andres Gimenez, and catcher Ali Sanchez.
They could have an advantage if they reach the postseason
While the absence of Syndergaard could sting in a postseason scenario, the Mets could have a huge advantage if they find themselves in the three-game wild card round (under the safe assumption that they won't have the best record in the National League). And the name of that advantage is Jacob deGrom.
Losing Game 1 of a five-game series is bad enough, but losing Game 1 of a three-game series would immediately put any team into two-straight must-win scenarios.
If the Mets know they're ticketed for the playoffs and are able to set up their rotation, having deGrom able to potentially swing Game 1 their way could be the difference between a quick playoff ouster and a trip to the NLDS and potentially beyond.