If the Colorado Rockies will face only teams from the National League West and American League West in 2020, it will likely not only make for a shorter schedule, but also a tougher one.
As reported by the Associated Press, the proposal that could kickstart Major League Baseball again (if owners and players can agree on money matters and health and safety concerns that are already being voiced) in 2020 includes a roughly 82-game schedule where the Colorado Rockies and the rest of the NL West squads would face AL West teams in interleague play. There would be no opponents from outside those divisions on the Colorado schedule, reportedly.
Additionally, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has written that the schedule could consist of four three-game series against each team’s divisional opponents (in Colorado’s case, the NL West) and two three-game series against each team’s mirror division in the opposite league (in Colorado’s case, the AL West). That’s a 78-game slate with geography playing a key role, keeping Colorado primarily in the Mountain and Pacific time zones (except for potential trips to the Central time zone to face Houston and Texas, should teams be allowed to play in their home stadiums).
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While Rockies fans would certainly celebrate the team not having to make a trip to St. Louis or Miami in 2020, there is the counter-balance of knowing a shorter season facing teams within their own division (where many prognosticators have them finishing fourth out of five teams) and playing against an AL West division where the Oakland A’s won 97 games in each of the past two seasons and the Houston Astros have been the AL representative in two of the last three World Series.
Additionally, many are predicting a better season for the Los Angeles Angels with the return of Shohei Ohtani and the addition of new manager Joe Maddon and third baseman Anthony Rendon. Plus there’s that Mike Trout guy in the lineup as well.
Projected standings from spring training (with a 162-game schedule, of course) had the Astros, A’s, and Angels (in that order) all finishing with winning records while the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners were expected to finish below .500.
So what are the potential positives for the Rockies of this new schedule alignment?
Well, from a fan perspective, Rockies fans would get more looks at Ohtani and Trout and there would be plenty of ways for Nolan Arenado and his Platinum Glove to be compared to two of the better third basemen in the game in Rendon and Matt Chapman (a favorite activity of anyone who doesn’t witness Arenado’s greatness on a frequent basis).
For the team, one positive could be avoiding trips to the East Coast and having to hop two time zones to play games. Colorado was 10-18 in games played in the Eastern time zone last season and 218-312 all-time on the road against the NL East.
Yes, there are some positives. There’s also the realistic side, with Colorado having an all-time record of 67-96 against AL West teams, including a combined 0-4 against Houston last season. Colorado holds a 16-15 edge in all games against Oakland, but that’s the only all-time mark above .500 with any of the five AL West squads.
And let’s not forget the NL West still features the Dodgers (who went 15-4 against the Rockies last season and added Mookie Betts and David Price to their lineup in the offseason) as well as a young San Diego squad that many expect to improve and an Arizona team that added Madison Bumgarner to its rotation and acquired Starling Marte as well.
Of course, nothing is set in stone yet as players and owners work to see if there will be a 2020 season. However, if the Rockies are hoping to rebound from last year’s disappointing 71-91 showing, it could well be against a stacked schedule in a season that will be anything but normal.