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First Thoughts on the White Sox 2020 Schedule

As we inch closer to the 2020 MLB season, the schedule drop was one of the last remaining pieces.  We knew Opening Day would fall on July 23-24 and that the season would wrap up in late September as usual.  We also knew the general format of the schedule, with 40 games against divisional opponents and the remaining 20 against the same division in the other league (i.e., NL Central for the White Sox).  The last piece missing was then who, when, and where in between.

Although the official schedule drop was at 5 pm Central on MLB Network, some of the details started trickling in early Monday.  First, the news that the White Sox would face the Cubs at home to close the season.

The next piece we learned was the White Sox would face the reigning AL Central Champs, the Minnesota Twins.

What a bookend to the season, especially as the White Sox appear ready to turn the corner from rebuild to contention.  Sure, the 20 games against the Royals and Tigers will help, but getting to use the Twins as a barometer right off the bat will surely be interesting.

The rest of the schedule dropped later in the evening, and can be viewed here.  While there are still some questions surrounding how likely the season is to finish, especially with the White Sox beginning to grapple with the reality of COVID-19 in house, we’ll operate under the assumption the season will finish in order to breakdown the schedule.

So what are the key dates?  Here’s what I have circled on my calendar in pencil:

Key Series of the 2020 Season

Opening Series vs. Minnesota (3 Games, July 24-26)

This should be a fun one, with the Bomba Squad coming to town to kick things off.  While the Twins will certainly be the team to beat in the Central on paper, it will be interesting to see how the accelerated Spring Training may affect both teams.  With each team’s starting pitchers quickly ramping up, this will be a good opportunity for the Sox to start strong and steal some games early.

Until then, dreaming of Giolito dicing up the Twins like he did late last season.

Field of Dreams Game vs. Cardinals (Aug. 13)

After much speculation, the Field of Dreams game is scheduled to move forward after all, with the White Sox in the game.  The opponent, replacing the East Coast restricted Yankees, will be the St. Louis Cardinals, as the MLB swaps one large national fanbase with another to pair with the upstart White Sox.

I’ve seen people complaining about it not being the Reds, which would have made sense given the 1919 World Series connection, but in the end as long as it isn’t the Cubs I don’t really care.  This way the game is still about the White Sox, and the MLB doesn’t get to twist the promotion into another North Side hype fest.

The series will then move to Chicago for two more games with an off day Friday, but this series’ crucial aspect is the game played in Iowa.

Home vs. Twins (4 Games, Sep. 14-17)

This is the last crack against the preseason favorite Twins, so getting a 4 game tilt at home to close out the season series is huge.  This series will almost certainly have enormous playoff implications for both clubs.  Not to mention, this series comes at the end of a 7 game home series, before the Sox head to Ohio for a 6 game road trip against the Reds and Indians.  With 17 games in 17 days to end the season, ripping off a few wins against the Twins at home could lead to some breathing room in the playoff hunt.

Last AL Central Series – At Cleveland (4 Games, Sep. 21-24)

Similar to the series above, getting a four game series against a divisional rival as a 60 game season winds down will be pivotal.  The opportunity the White Sox will have, if all goes according to plan, will be to end the Indians’ playoff hopes before heading home for a victory lab against the Cubs.  A rough series, likewise, could spell doom for the Sox playoff hopes. With this series coming on the road, it’ll be in enemy territory at a time in the season when Cleveland’s dominant rotation should be at full power.

No pressure, right?

Closing Series vs. Cubs (3 Games, Sep. 25-27)

Any closing series of a baseball season is always important.  In a 60 game season where each game is significantly amplified, three games likely will be enough room to close a gap with a division or wild card leader, or collapse.  This series coming against the Crosstown Rivals certainly only heats the meaning of this series up in the stands, as both teams will (hopefully) be fighting for a playoff spot at this point in the season.  Having the chance to play spoiler, on either side of town, will be a big motivating factor here.

Miscellaneous Thoughts on the White Sox Schedule

  • With each divisional opponent making up 1/6 (10 games) of the season, the home/away splits of those series are critical.  Here is how they breakdown for the White Sox:
    • Cleveland: 7 away, 3 home
    • Minnesota: 3 away, 7 home
    • Kansas City: 7 away, 3 home
    • Detroit: 3 away, 7 home
    • Personally, I’m not paying attention much to Kansas City/Detroit.  The Sox need to take care of business against them, home or away, or this season is dead in the water.  My hope was to get both of them at 7 or 6 away with more favorable splits against Cleveland and Minnesota, but it’s what it is.  It’s definitely ideal to get 7 at home against the presumptive division favorite.
  • The start of the season is relatively daunting, with 16 of the first 22 games coming against the Twins, Indians, Brewers, and Cardinals.  This first third-ish of the season will be a huge test for a young team, one that’ll help decide the course of the last 39 games.

  • The back half of the schedule, on paper, doesn’t look too bad.  Getting 14 games against the Pirates, Royals, and Tigers with a 3 game helping of the Twins in the middle is a somewhat relenting stretch of the schedule.  The 9 game road trip in there makes it a little tougher, but bookending days off around the Pittsburgh series should help with rest.
  • The last stretch of the season is going to be an absolute slog.  The last 14 games all come against teams with playoff hopes in the Twins, Reds, Indians, and Cubs, with no off days during the last 17 games of the season.  That is reminscient of the grind the Cubs went through a few years back in 2018, where they went from the best record in the NL to out of the playoffs in a matter of 2 days.  With this last stretch making up 25% of the season, it will be a grind to the playoffs.
  • Overall, playing in the Central, in my opinion, is better than the East or West.  No matter the schedule, I’ll take these opponents over any in baseball.  A 60 game schedule is going to lead to some wacky results, so I’m bucking in for this year, assuming we play.  Welcome to baseball in 2020.

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