The MLB officially released the full schedule for the 2020 season, and while we already knew the composition of opponents for the Phillies—40 vs. NL East, 20 vs. AL East—there’s still a few interesting details to parse through with the schedule now set in stone.
1. The Phillies open the season with Miami, providing a good opportunity to start the season on the right foot
Momentum is important in baseball, and in a 60-game season the pressure to produce winning results will be immediate. Starting the season off with a series win would go a long way in keeping early pressure off the Phillies and give them the confidence to compete in a loaded NL East.
Last season the Phils actually posted a worse record vs. the Marlins (9-10) than they did against the Braves (10-9) and Mets (12-7); and had they just taken care of business against Miami the season might’ve played out differently. Given those struggles, I don’t think Phillies fans would be surprised if the team laid an egg vs. the Marlins, but there’s no doubt it’s the perfect matchup if the team wants to start the season right.
2. The toughest stretch begins on the second road trip
The toughest stretch of the year comes smack dab in the middle, starting with an eight game road trip—2 games at BOS, 3 at ATL, 3 at WAS—before coming back home for 3 vs the Braves and a full 4 game set with the Nationals.
With all 15 games coming against stiff competition, and 13 coming vs Washington and Atlanta this is likely the stretch that will swing the season. Outside of this 15 game run there’s only 7 more matchups vs ATL or WAS, so this is the Phils main chance to go head-to-head with the two clubs they’ll likely be fighting with in the division. 8-7 should be the goal for this stretch.
3. We already knew this of course, but it’s one of the toughest schedules in baseball
Here’s what I wrote a few weeks ago when the geographical format was announced:
“While most fans understand the depth of the NL East—Braves & Nats are contenders, Mets are formidable, Marlins have plus young talent—the AL East is also one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Eleven inter-league matchups with the Yankees (103 wins last year), Rays (96 wins last year), and Red Sox (84 wins) isn’t ideal… The Phils really need to take care of Baltimore, Toronto, and Miami if they want any hope of making a run at the playoffs.”
This all still rings true, and the only clubs that can legitimately claim a more difficult schedule than the Phillies are probably the Mets and Marlins. Of the three geographical regions, the East has seven .500 or better clubs from 2019, compared to just five in the Central divisions, and four out West.
The Phillies over/under is set at 31.5, and while I’ll narrowly take the over, it certainly won’t be easy to push much farther than that given the difficulty of this schedule.