60-Game Schedule Could Benefit These Five Teams
Now that baseball has officially announced that it’s back for a 60-game season, it’s time to look ahead. Look ahead towards the future and try to identify teams that might benefit from a schedule of that length.
Around the game of baseball, there are some teams that fall into this category. It might be due to the age of players on the primary big league roster or because of players recovering from injury. Regardless, there is bound to be plenty of excitement throughout the season and likely many surprises.
After all, instead of a marathon, this season will be treated as a sprint. It will cause managers to manage the game differently. Additionally, with the implementation of a 60-player pool for all thirty teams, anything is possible. If the right team clicks at the right time, then it can significantly help them in their contention pursuits.
With that being said, here are five teams that might benefit from this year’s 60-game schedule.
1. Washington Nationals
After being crowned World Series Champions last year, the Washington Nationals have had some time to recover. Typically, the year after a team wins the World Series, there is the “hangover effect” that takes over. However, with the delay to the start of this season, the Nationals may very well benefit in their own way. If you recall, last postseason both Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle came through in lots of different big moments for Washington. Both relievers contributed to the Nationals quest for the World Series Championship and with this extra time off, that could be a significant benefit for the Nationals.
Additionally, the starting rotation will benefit tremendously as well. Besides Hudson and Doolittle, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Anibal Sanchez were all significant components to the Nationals championship as well. In fact, the Nationals starting rotation threw a total of 938 and 2/3 innings last season. That put them right behind the New York Mets for second place in all of baseball. As they say, you can’t win a World Series without pitching and defense. The Nationals proved that last year and they once again could prove that this year under a 60-game schedule.
2. Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels are another team that could really benefit from a 60-game schedule. The reason why is because the Angels are expecting a significant contribution from two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery back in October of 2018 and was utilized as a DH last year. Since that time, he has worked very hard on getting back on a big league mound in as good of shape as possible. Given that this season was delayed a little over three months, Ohtani and the Angels could very well benefit.
Angels skipper Joe Maddon has already mentioned that Ohtani will pitch every sixth day. Essentially, with the Angels starting pitching depth, that is a significant boost for them and something that could help them to make the postseason – assuming there is one to begin with. When you add Ohtani to a starting rotation with Andrew Heaney at the top and Dylan Bundy in the middle along with Julio Teheran and Griffin Canning, it becomes pretty intriguing. If Ohtani is able to contribute at the plate too, then that’s an even bigger benefit for Los Angeles.
3. Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are getting ready to open up their next window. After failing to finish above .500 since the conclusion of the 2012 season, Chicago is ready and poised to bring championship baseball back to the Southside. According to MLB.com, the White Sox farm system falls just outside of the Top 10 in 11th place. However, there is a lot of talent in that farm system headlined by the likes of outfielder Luis Robert, first baseman Andrew Vaughan, and second baseman Nick Madrigal.
Beyond that, when it comes to the White Sox big league team, the starting rotation is the one area that could benefit from a 60-game season. Chicago added veteran stability to their rotation in Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez this past offseason. Although, the White Sox also possess a lot of young, high-upside arms in Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, and Reynaldo Lopez. Additionally, their third-best prospect is right-hander Michael Kopech. With a 60-game season, those young arms have the potential to truly shine and provide a substantial amount of impact.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
Right now, the Tampa Bay Rays are tied with the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies with the second-youngest roster in baseball. Under a 60-game schedule format, that really benefits the Rays, especially from a development standpoint. Tampa Bay has already impressed the baseball world over the last few years with their ability to mix-and-match pitching matchups and the impressive offensive talent that the team has as well. In addition, the Rays possess the top farm system in baseball right now.
Considering the amount of talent and young, high-upside players, Tampa Bay could use this season to their advantage. Every season, the Rays have to find a way to compete with the New York Yankees and typically the Boston Red Sox. While they have been successful in the past, this could be a prime opportunity for skipper Kevin Cash to do what he does best. Furthermore, Tampa Bay will have Wander Franco in their 60-player pool. Franco is currently the best prospect in baseball. If the Rays have that additional player on their roster, then the sky is basically the limit for this team.
5. New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a true powerhouse in baseball. After all, they have a very strong team and a winning philosophy within their organization. However, given the health concerns surrounding outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, a 60-game season could provide the team with a nice boost. While the Yankees might be viewed as the favorites in the American League, having Judge and Stanton 100% healthy will only benefit the offense more. Additionally, with a healthy Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees have someone to fill their DH role on a full-time basis.
Beyond that, the Yankees bullpen might benefit as well. Last season, New York’s bullpen threw the fifth-most innings in the American League – 664 and 2/3. Even with Gerrit Cole anchoring the top of the rotation, there is some uncertainty in the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton are all very capable starters, but if an injury happens then New York will need the bullpen to be in tip-top shape. With a shortened schedule, that could very well happen which would only help the Yankees in their pursuit of a championship.
In the end, no one knows what to really expect this season. After all, it’s a 60-game sprint rather than a 162-game marathon. There is bound to plenty of excitement, surprises, disappointments, and everything else in between. While some teams look better on paper than others, only time will dictate what happens. Although, for the five aforementioned teams, the schedule might benefit them in a way that it doesn’t for the other 25 teams around baseball.
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