Baseball is officially making an attempt to start their 2020 season. And as the Nationals look to officially begin their repeat campaign, they face a tougher task than others to get back to the World Series.
There will be a 60-game schedule for each team. How those games get divided up are what is going to make that title defense all the more difficult.
The schedule will be broken up into 40 divisional games and 20 interleague games with their geographic counterpart, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
Plan is for teams to play 40 games in division and 20 games interleague with their geographic counterpart (East vs. East, etc.) #MLB— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 24, 2020
That makes Washington's quest all the more difficult. Geographically and to try and limit travel it makes perfect sense. But from a competitive standpoint, that hurts the Nationals. The team goes from having to play the AL West in their interleague schedule to the AL East, which boasts arguably the best team in the sport in the New York Yankees.
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Here would be the Nats' 2020 opponents:
-New York Mets
-Boston Red Sox
-New York Yankees
-Tampa Bay Rays
-Toronto Blue Jays
The American League West had three teams that were below .500 last season, two well below, and set up a series of favorable games for Washington. Now they will face the pennant favorite Yankees, the Rays who are building off their Wild Card berth last year and the always competitive Red Sox roster.
That's not even factoring a tough division. Atlanta still won the division. Philly is well, Philly with Bryce Harper and co. And the Mets have a stellar starting pitching rotation.
When it's all said and done, that's sevens teams, including the Nationals, that have a legitimate shot at the playoffs this season. Six of the Nationals possible nine opponents coming off a .500 or better season.
At least the positive news is that all the division opponents will face the same obstacle. The issue is competing for one of the two Wild Card slots against teams elsewhere in the National League.
The Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs and Red play three really bad teams (the Pirates, Tigers and Royals). The wild West could go in several directions.
The Nationals will play each of their division rivals 10 times throughout the course of the season, according to The New York Post's Joel Sherman. It is rumored that the teams will play four interleague teams five times each. One report says that each team's natural interleague partner will play each other six times, according to USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale. For the Nationals that would be the Orioles, which would favor the defending champs.
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Nationals potentially facing a daunting schedule in reported 60-game layout originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington