The 60-game Major League Baseball season begins on Thursday, and it seems that the league still doesn’t even know what the postseason format will be.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that MLB and the MLB Players Association “are re-engaging on the possibility of expanded playoffs for this season.” Heyman adds that the “hope was to go from 10 playoff teams to 16.”
Sources: MLB and union are re-engaging on the possibility of expanded playoffs for this season. Has to be done before first pitch 25 hours from now, but there seems to be optimism. Hope was to go from 10 playoff teams to 16.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 22, 2020
ESPN’s Buster Olney adds that if the two sides agree to a 16-team postseason format, the first round would likely be best-of-three.
If MLB, PA agree to a 16-team playoff field for 2020, that likely means, given the calendar limits, that the first round would be best-of-three. The heavy favorites, Dodgers and Yankees, might be playing for their lives right away.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 22, 2020
So, it appears there are still discussions about going from a 10-team postseason format to a 16-team format, with the season starting one day from now. Might want to figure that out!
This could ultimately make a massive impact on things, allowing more than half of MLB to make the postseason. Teams that look .500 on paper would all of a sudden be very serious playoff contenders, and it would truly give every team (well, maybe not the Baltimore Orioles) a very real chance; any team can play halfway decent baseball over 60 games. It could also impact roster decisions — with some teams potentially playing to win each day rather than focusing on developing players, for example — and the trade deadline on August 31.
And as Olney alluded to- anything can happen in a three-game baseball series, so that’s something juggernaut teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees surely wouldn’t be in favor of. The smaller the sample, the more things swing in the favor of the lesser talented teams.
There’s also the television side of things, with this format allowing for more postseason games for Fox, FS1, TBS, and MLB Network (ESPN also gets one of the Wild Card games each year). It would particularly create an interesting situation for Fox Sports, with NFL and college football — maybe — being in-season as well.
So, stay tuned for an official answer on the MLB postseason format. There will have to be an answer very, very soon, with the season about to start.