MLB Announces Plan to Start Shortened 2020 Season Next Month

Posted on: June 23, 2020, 12:37h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2020, 10:36h.

PLAY BALL! We think. Maybe.

MLB Baseball 2020 COVID-19
The last time there was MLB action, the Washington Nationals were celebrating their 2019 World Series championship. MLB officials announced Monday a plan to start a shortened 2020 season in about a month. (Image: David J. Phillip/AP)

MLB announced Monday night they plan to unilaterally announce a start date and length of the 2020 season. While ESPN reports the season will last 60 games – or slightly longer than a third of a typical 162-game season – the actual length will be contingent on whether the MLB Players Association agrees to report to training camp by July 1 and if the union agrees to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The owners have asked the players to respond by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Monday’s announcement is the latest chapter in what’s become a bitter relationship between the owners and players in the oldest major league sport in the US.

Earlier in the day, players rejected owners’ plans for a 60-game schedule that, among other things, also would have made the designated hitter universal for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, as well as expanding the playoffs for the 2020 season.

Aside from a 60-game schedule, those other changes appear to be off the table now. The universal DH will be in place for 2020 only as part of the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

“Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development,” MLB stated in its release.

The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new postseason format.”

If players can return to training by July 1, the season would likely begin in late July. League officials and owners have been adamant about ending the regular season in September in order to conduct the playoffs in October.

Short Season May Affect Betting Opportunities

A 60-game schedule will make for an intriguing but short campaign during the dog days of summer – provided the coronavirus still doesn’t kill off the entire season. In the last week, there have been reports of players testing positive, leading to MLB shutting down the training camps for cleaning.

Baseball has probably the most parity of the four major league sports. In a three-game matchup between the league’s best and worst teams, the worst team could still win 2-of-3 games in a series, depending on pitching and other factors. That’s why the season is so long, so the best teams can eventually stand out over time.

In a 60-game season, every game will become a must-win, because teams will not have enough time to rally from a disastrous start. The Washington Nationals, last year’s World Series champions, won just 19 of their first 50 games before making their marvelous comeback.

Because of that, it may be worth a look at teams with higher World Series odds that may be likely to start hot. Such teams would include the Cincinnati Reds, who are +2800 at FanDuel and look to have one of the deepest starting rotations in the National League, and the Chicago White Sox, who are +3300 at FanDuel and have a very strong lineup in a winnable American League Central division.

Another thing to consider from a game-betting standpoint: with the DH now also in effect in the National League this year, that should lead to more runs scored per game, which in turn will affect over/unders on runs scored. It may take some sportsbooks a few games to adjust to this, especially as some NL teams identify who may get the bulk of the DH at-bats. That means sharp bettors may be able to find values early in the season.

Dodgers, Yankees World Series Favorites

Currently, at FanDuel, the Los Angeles Dodgers are considered the favorites to win the World Series, with odds at +380. The New York Yankees, who made a big off-season move in signing pitching ace Gerrit Cole from the Houston Astros, are next at +400.

DraftKings has similar odds, with LA at +375 and the Yanks at +400. Points Bet offers the Dodgers at +300 and New York at +375.

BetMGM, meanwhile, lists the Yankees as its favorite at +350, with Los Angeles at +375.