This season has definitely been one of a kind for baseball. It’s also provided some pretty unique scenarios that you wouldn’t normally see in an MLB season, for better or worse.
The nature of a COVID-shortened year meant that baseball was able to experiment with plenty of new ideas to try and make the best of an otherwise lost season. Ranging from a Universal DH to some whacky extra-inning rules, there have been plenty of examples of ideas that have worked as well as ideas that haven’t.
But through all of the changes, there is one adjustment that came about mostly out of necessity rather than opportunity to experiment. In an effort to limit the travel and exposure that teams would have to endure, the league implemented a regional schedule, forcing teams to stay within their general areas for the entirety of the regular season.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) September 25, 2020
Going In Blind
While this approach may have ensured that a full (60 game) season was able to be completed without any major outbreaks, it does add a new wrinkle for the Postseason that will even the playing field across the board.
The Dodgers will be going into the playoffs with a new challenge that they’ve never dealt with before: they won’t have faced at least 11 out of the 15 other teams who make it into the postseason. This isn’t to say that the boys won’t find success in October just as they have in the regular season, but familiarity (or the lack thereof) will almost certainly factor in at some point in the postseason.
In a normal 162-game season, every team has ample opportunity to at least play all teams within their same league throughout the year. This gives teams a chance to scout their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses in hopes of formulating a gameplan should they meet again when the stakes are raised. This season, all of that will have to be thrown out of the window.
Going into the postseason with no expectations can be tough for an offense especially. But while this may be a struggle for Dodger hitters, other teams not knowing what to expect could be a blessing in disguise for the pitching staff. Facing a team or two that didn’t have a chance to face the Dodgers’ arms this season could be a huge boost to a group that has struggled in these final weeks.
Regardless of circumstance, I firmly expect the Dodgers to dominate in October and hopefully bring home their first title in over three decades. The road to get there may look slightly different, but the destination remains the same.
This has been a special group all year, and with so many players hitting free agency at the conclusion of the season, this may be the last dance for a major core of this Dodgers team. Shortened season or not, a title this year would mean the world to an LA fanbase hungry and desperate for a winner. If nothing else, it will make going through 2020 worthwhile to see the Dodgers be the last team standing in Arlington.