As we edge closer to the 60-game MLB season, we are walking through some of the biggest subplots for the 2020 season.
Rule change #1 – a designated hitter (DH) in all games
One of the big rule changes for the 2020 is the addition of the designated hitter in the National League, bringing it in line with the American League. This tweak is a long time coming and avoids the strange World Series scenario where a DH drops in and out of the line-up depending on which team is playing at home. Replacing the (mostly) non-event of pitcher at-bats with the added excitement of a DH is a positive move for the National League and should relieve a little of the strain on pitchers, though there are likely some who will miss the chance to swing the bat every now and again.
Rule change #2 – a runner starting on second base in extra innings
It is hard to argue with this rule change either. The notion has been tested out in the minor leagues and should push extra innings games towards a faster conclusion. With a runner starting on second base once we move to the top of the tenth inning, a base hit will often be good enough to score a run. This is good news for bullpens too, with a reduced likelihood of games dragging on to the 12th or 13th innings.
Can post-injury Christian Yelich guide the Milwaukee Brewers back to the playoffs?
Yelich’s fractured kneecap was a hammer blow for the Brewers in 2019 but he can guide Milwaukee into the thick of the postseason conversation if he returns at the MVP level we have witnessed in prior years. Though the NL Central will be tough sledding again this year, the 60-game format might actually suit the Brewers.
How will David Ross handle the transition from team-mate to manager in Chicago?
There is going to be a different vibe in the Chicago Cubs’ clubhouse in 2020, with Ross taking over the hotseat from Joe Maddon. Expect some growing pains after playing alongside a number of the current Cubs, though Ross was a highly respected veteran by the time he landed in Chicago. After an underwhelming offseason, the Cubs are dependent on improvement from within to get back to the playoffs.
Will Francisco Lindor finish the season with the Cleveland Indians?
We have already seen rumours floating around about the Indians moving on from Lindor, though it is hard to gauge what the shortened season means for the chances of a big trade. If Cleveland get off to a rough start, it could be time to re-tool and gather as many future assets as possible. Lindor remains a top class shortstop and the type of consistent batter that sparks World Series trips. It would surely take a monster offer to pry him away from the Indians.