(KPIX) — Opening day of the abbreviated MLB season is scheduled for July 23, four months after the original opening day. The San Francisco Giants will face the Dodgers in Los Angeles. (The top half of the East Coast-West Coast doubleheader features the New York Yankees and World Series champion Washington Nationals.)
The rebuilding Giants may benefit from the 60-game season. But they’ll face an uphill battle to unseat the Dodgers from atop the National League West. The Dodgers have owned the division for the last seven seasons and don’t seem likely to relinquish control this season. San Francisco’s best hope is to get hot at the right time, and even that hope is faint at best.
The Oakland A’s are a much different story. “The A’s are loaded top to bottom,” according to KPIX sports director Dennis O’Donnell. “It’s not going to impact the A’s as much as the Giants. But 60 games is still a decent barometer. And the A’s are a playoff team, regardless of 162 or 60 games. The Giants are not. I think, at the end of the day, the true colors will show for both teams.”
Both teams, and every other major league team, is scheduled to play 40 intra-division games and 20 cross-league games against the geographically corresponding division. So just as the Giants will see a lot of the Dodgers, the A’s will see a lot of the AL champion Houston Astros. Oakland, however, is better positioned to take down a Houston team that has won the AL West three years running.
“The Astros say goodbye to Gerrit Cole, their best pitcher,” O’Donnell points out. “They’re getting up there in age in their starting rotation. The A’s are a lot younger, especially in that rotation. I asked Bob Melvin before the season began, ‘is this the best Oakland team that you have managed?’ And he said, ‘well, Josh Donaldson might have an issue with that statement. Donaldson playing under Melvin previously. But the A’s have a strong rotation, maybe the best corner tandem in baseball — Chapman at third, Olson at first base. Semien, 33 home runs, third in MVP voting last year. Sean Murphy, keep your eyes on him, a rookie behind the plate. This team is loaded and [have] one of the best managers in baseball in Bob Melvin.”
The bigger concern than the A’s making the postseason may just be whether or not there actually is a postseason. The future is uncertain, especially in a state experiencing a resurgence of the virus. For now, MLB opening day remains on the not-so-distant horizon.