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HomeMLB0 to 60: Key MLB Matchups for a Sprint Season

0 to 60: Key MLB Matchups for a Sprint Season

July 23rd marks the start of a blistering 60-game 2020 MLB season. We give you the key matchups you need to keep a lookout for. This article contains affiliate links - If you purchase through the links below, we earn money that goes towards supporting the maintenance and development of this site.

IN THE EAST

Blue Jays vs Nationals

The young, high-potential Jays lineup will be in for an early test of their resolve when they meet the defending World Series champion Washington squad for a home-and-home series starting July 27. Look for Nats starters Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to go toe-to-toe with the hot bats of Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. over the four-game set.

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Red Sox vs Yankees

Boston fans will have to wait until September to see the timeless showdown and it might come at a critical point in the season, September 18-20. It’s hard to know what the lineups will look like come September with opt-outs and injuries sure to come, but the division has to be ready for any combination of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez, among others. The Yankees will look to take advantage of Boston’s weakened rotation after the loss of starter Chris Sale due to Tommy John surgery.

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Mets vs Yankees

The 2020 Subway Series starts in Queens August 21-23 and ends in the Bronx August 28-30 with the growing likelihood of a Cy Young contender showdown between the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom.

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Braves vs Phillies

The Phillies were the only team to have a winning record against Atlanta in 2019 after the young Braves put on a show in the NL East to win the division. Look for key matchups between Atlanta’s young All-Star arm Mike Soroka and Philly’s strong lineup with the likes of Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, and J.T. Realmuto.

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Mets vs Blue Jays

In a year with no All-Star festivities, the Mets’ 2019 Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and Toronto slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will face off in a Home Run Derby redux September 11-13.
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Orioles vs Nationals

Baltimore split the interleague series with Washington in the midst of an abysmal 54-108 2019 campaign and can improve their standing under sophomore manager Brandon Hyde. They’ll have a tough opening stretch with series against the Yankees, Red Sox, and two against the Nationals in the first few weeks of the 60-game season. The Nats will have a chance to pull ahead of the pack in the NL East with 19 of their first 22 games against teams who missed the playoffs in 2019.

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Rays vs Marlins

Both Florida teams will be looking to get into the race in 2020. The Marlins lineup has a number of players who stood out during their 2019 rookie campaigns, namely CF Harold Ramirez and 3B Jon Berti who ranked 3rd and 4th in batting average (in players with over 50 games played). The Rays will send a powerful rotation into the fray with Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, and All-Star Blake Snell to keep the rebound-hungry Marlins in check.

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THE CENTRAL DIVISION

Reds vs Cleveland

Cincinnati look to be a threat in 2020 with 3B Eugenio Suárez poised for his first MVP season and perennial All-Star 1B Joey Votto who’s not slowing down any time soon, and the addition of slugger Nick Castellanos to their already solid lineup. Over the August 3-6 series, the Reds will look to make a statement against their “Ohio Cup” rival Cleveland, who are in a rebuilding phase and may be shopping their trade-hungry superstar Francisco Lindor until the August 31 trade deadline.

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Cardinals vs CubsThe late-season series between two contenders could decide the competitive NL Central in dramatic fashion. Chicago’s Steven Souza Jr. is returning from a gruesome knee injury that kept him out of the game for the entire 2019 season and may very well provide an extra spark in the Chicago lineup for the historic rivalry. Cardinals stud Jack Flaherty is in the mix as one of the NL’s most promising arms, so watch out for him in key starts.

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Brewers vs Twins

Shutdown Milwaukee pitcher Corey Knebel coming back from injury will add a wrinkle to the regional rivals’ interleague battle alongside MVP Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and potential sleepers like Avisaíl García and Justin Smoak. The Twins look as strong as ever with veterans Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Miguel Sanó. It looks like the Minnesota-Wisconsin divide offers something different than rivalry. One thing both teams can agree on is that they hate Chicago more than they could ever hate each other.


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Tigers vs Cleveland

According to MLB.com the 2018 Rookie of the Year, Detroit’s Michael Fulmer, will be returning to the lineup following Tommy John surgery. The Tigers lineup looks different than it has in years with potentially three top-50 prospects making their debuts for the club in Casey Mize (ranked 7th), Matt Manning (ranked 24th), and Tarik Skubal (ranked 46th). Meanwhile, Cleveland’s underrated starting rotation poses a potential shutdown solution for scrappy young teams. Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber are definitely out to show their value in a team that’s entering a rebuilding phase.

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Royals vs White Sox

In an early season series July 31- August 2, under-the-radar AL home run king Jorge Soler will go hit for hit with breakout Chicago star LF Eloy Jiménez. The matchup will certainly be a sneak peek of baseball’s new generation of rivalries.

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White Sox vs Cardinals

It’s now confirmed that MLB’s August 13 Field of Dreams game in Iowa will proceed as expected, only the Yankees have been replaced on the ticket by St. Louis, who will take on the White Sox. Call it a showdown of infielders: 1Bs José Abreu (Sox) and Paul Goldschmidt (Cards), shortstops Tim Anderson (Sox) and Paul DeJong (Cards), and 3Bs Yoán Moncada (Sox) and Tommy Edman (Cards). They’ll be electric to watch in the cornfield in August.

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Twins vs Cardinals

Both 2019 Central Division champs will face off in an early-season rematch when Minnesota opens the season at home July 28-29. Fans are right to anticipate an exciting series, knowing the Twins are carrying lots of veteran power on the field and in the bullpen to take on the Cards, who are steadily ushering in a new era of talent. They might not be exactly the same teams as they were in the playoffs, but the competition will still be worth watching.

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IN THE WEST

Padres vs the entire NL West

Time to come back from the brink. San Diego has to wait until their 24th game of the season to play a team outside the National League West; this scheduling anomaly also means there’s the potential for their emerging lineup to jump ahead in the standings. “Emerging” is the polite way of saying the Padres have had very little to celebrate recently, having stayed at nearly rock bottom of the league in batting the last few years. That’s not to say it’s not possible. 3B Manny Machado, SS Fernando Tatis Jr. and starter Chris Paddack will lead the charge in a sprint to the finish that plays to their strengths as a club (Paddack was almost impossible to hit for the front half of 2019). Despite recording the fewest hits in the majors in last season, there’s room for optimism in the young club. If San Diego can put together a solid performance against their own division, they could be in a position to challenge the favourites, or at least play spoiler.

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Dodgers vs Astros

This matchup is indisputably the most anticipated rematch of the season. July 28-29 will be the first time the two clubs meet since the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal that tainted their 2017 World Series victory against Los Angeles went public in the offseason. Look for Lance McCullers Jr. to make his return to the Astros’ rotation to complement the power duo of Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. The Dodgers are the co-favourites to win the World Series (with the Yankees) and have just as much firepower, depending on who you ask, in their own rotation with Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. It might be a series of pitcher’s duels, or the roster of power bats and former MVPs might break out and put on a show. Hold on tight with this showdown.

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Rockies vs Diamondbacks vs Giants

All three will play each other ten times, which will be a good determining factor for which of them will rise to meet the daunting Dodgers squad over the season. The three divisional opponents did not produce a playoff-bound campaign in 2019, but 2018 saw the Rockies pull within a game of L.A., good enough to advance to the NL Wild Card game. ‘Zona had a decent run last season and have added former Giant Madison Bumgarner to their rotation; if he can get his ERA and WHIP down to where it was 2013-2017 and stay healthy, it could get interesting. The Giants, meanwhile, seem to be bouncing back after a pretty terrible 2018. The loss of catcher Buster Posey, who opted out of playing in 2020, will be a blow to the clubhouse, but the veteran squad has been successful before and could keep pushing to be competitive if their play reflects their potential.

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Rockies vs Dodgers

Colorado couldn’t do much against L.A. in 2019, going 4-15 against the high-flying Dodgers over the season series. With 3B Nolan Arenado, RF Charlie Blackmon, and SS Trevor Story still in the mix for the Rockies and arguably in the prime of their respective careers, anything can happen. Depending on who’s on the mound for L.A. and who’s healthy in their lineup, Colorado might surprise the NL West champs.

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A’s vs Angels vs Rangers

The three teams have clogged up the middle of the AL West for years now, leapfrogging each other in pursuit of the dominant Houston Astros. Oakland looks solid on paper: a mix of veterans and fresh talent, guys that absolutely rake, good team speed, and a proven rotation. The question is whether they can make it happen on the field, whether or not there are fans. Look for the Angels to bust out of the gate with Shohei Ohtani’s arm in the rotation and his bat in the DH spot, along with Mike Trout’s superstar contributions in all aspects of the game. World Series champ 3B Anthony Rendon and criminally underrated SS Andrelton Simmons make up a solid left side and leave little rest for opposing pitchers working their way through the lineup. The Rangers are throwing a decent but older rotation with only one starting pitcher under 32 (number five starter Jordan Lyles is in his age 29 season), so injuries might be a consideration on that front, but their core players have solid track records the last few seasons. Sparkplugs RF Joey Gallo and 2B Rougned Odor need to be locked in for this team to break through.

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