Double Bubble: Unraveling MLB’s New Playoff Format
Image courtesy of © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsExpanded Playoffs
In the hours before the season began, MLB and the Players Association agreed to a deal that would expand the playoffs from 10-teams to 16-teams. This means more than half of baseball’s teams will qualify for postseason play. MLB did more than just add more teams and some of those changes could make this year’s playoffs tough to digest for more traditional fans.
The first round will be a best of three-series with all the games played in the ballpark of the higher seed. With no fans in the stands, the biggest advantages for the home teams are being able to sleep in their own beds and to be the last team to bat in the final inning. After this first round, things will change for the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series.
Neutral Site Bubbles
MLB and the Players Association agreed to a deal earlier this week that would set up two neutral site bubbles for every round beyond the first round. All American League teams will play their games in California between Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego. All National League teams will play their games in Texas between Minute Maid Park in Houston and Globe Life Park in Arlington. The World Series will also be held at Globe Life Park.
All players will be tested daily inside the bubbles. It also sounds like families will be able to enter the bubble and stay with players on contending teams. They must quarantine with the players for seven days leading into the postseason and remain together while their spouse is still playing. Families of managers and coaches will not have this option because of the capacity issues in the hotels.
No Off Days
Another change that will be added to this year’s playoffs is nearly all off days have been eliminated. The first-round series would be played over three consecutive days, the Division Series would be played over five consecutive days, and the League Championship Series would be played over seven consecutive days. Only the World Series would keep it regular off days following Game 2 and Game 5.
For teams and managers, a condensed schedule could mean more strategy throughout each series. Bullpens will be come even more important, which certainly could help the Twins since they have a strong bullpen. Another change could be that back-up catchers play more of a role in a shortened series. Teams might not want their starting catcher to log three straight starts behind the plate, especially since playoff games tend to be longer than regular season contests.
What do you think about the changes to MLB’s playoff format? Will the bubble system work? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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