The 2020 MLB season is going to be a whole lot different compared to prior seasons.
But it’s how you adapt to these differences that keeps you making profitable bets.
So let’s get right to it.
Read on to learn how to make winning 2020 MLB predictions.
MLB Roster Changes
Previous seasons allowed 25 players per team.
In 2020, this has been expanded to 26 players per team.
There’s even the option to add a 27th player to the roster should a team play a double-header or they have several in the schedule:
This will have a small impact on the outcome.
The biggest changes to the 2020 roster changes are due to :
- The taxi squad; and
- The 60-man pool
Let’s explore these in more detail.
The Taxi Squad
The taxi squad is a three-person squad that travels with the rest of the team for games on the road.
One member of the taxi squad must be a catcher.
None of the three members count towards the full active roster.
They can be called up to play at any time to replace a player on the active roster.
The taxi squad has been implemented this year as the MLB expects many injuries caused by mid-season COVID-19 testing.
It means that games can still go ahead as players on the active roster can be replaced by members of the taxi squad.
The taxi squad is likely to be filled with veterans that can play at a moment’s notice, rather than with a team’s top prospects who would be better off and developing at an alternative training site.
60-Man Player Pool
This will act as the 2020 MLB Minor League.
It will contain the players who wouldn’t be on Major League rosters and will be held at every team’s designated alternate training site.
Players in the 60-man player pool will be called up to play if they must replace an injured/suspended Major roster player.
Every team must have submitted their lists already and it cannot be adjusted for the upcoming 2020 season at any point.
That means if your favorite player hasn’t made the cut, you won’t see them turn out in team colors this year.
How Do These Change 2020 MLB Baseball?
There are several things to look at here.
First, will teams that fall out of contention early field any of their hot prospects?
Well, if you take a look at the player pools, there certainly are some prospects on the list that wouldn’t have included if there wasn’t an abbreviated MLB season.
Players like Wander Franco, Royce Lewis and Nick Madrigal were all seen as a couple of years away from the Major League but they are all included in their respective teams’ player pools.
Is it to ensure they get to gain valuable experience at the alternate training site?
Or is it to give them real game time as there’s no real Minor League?
These are some good questions that can only be answered as the season progresses.
Whatever the reason, it’s going to have a big impact on a teams’ ability, or even desire, to win games this season.
Just look at the Seattle Mariners, who brought all of their top 14 prospects into the player pool.
If they lose the majority of their opening fixtures so they won’t realistically reach the playoffs, will they bring the young guys into the team and give them a chance?
If so, they won’t be concerned about winning.
Their focus will be on developing their young talent instead.
As a result, they may tank and lose more games than any other team in recent history.
Tanking is more common in professional sports compared to the past.
Expect this to occur even earlier in this 2020 MLB season than ever before, especially since owners don’t have to fill stadiums and please the attending fans.
So, in terms of MLB betting:
There could be a lot of value in alternative run line bets of 1.5 runs or above against teams that aren’t even trying to win.
Deep Farms Systems
Teams with deep farms systems will also be affected by the 60-man player pool.
Take the New York Yankees, for example.
They have a lot of depth and can cycle through a lot of good players to keep everyone fresh throughout the season.
The Yankees brought their top nine pitching prospects, including the likes of Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia, into their player pool, meaning they have a lot of room to manoeuvre.
Other teams don’t have the same luxury.
As such, teams with a deep bench at their alternate training site should be able to win more games than normal.
The 2001 Mariners hold the record for regular season winning percentage, but don’t be too surprised if multiple teams threaten it.
The 2020 season is set to be one of the most polarized in history.
Strength Of Schedule
Strength of schedule is talked about a lot in college sports.
Strength of schedule hasn’t really been that important in the MLB before.
Since each team plays 162 games, the schedule tends to even out by the end.
Things will be different for the 2020 MLB season.
The schedule has been designed to prevent teams traveling too much – understandable given the unique circumstances this year.
However, some teams will face a brutal schedule, while others will play teams that won’t be too bothered about winning.
Take the National League, for example.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds are both expected to compete for the NL Wild Card.
Let’s look at the Phillies first.
Being in the NL East, they’ll play inter-league games against teams in the AL East.
As you will see, they have a few notable fixtures:
- 10 games against the Braves
- 10 games against the Nationals
- 4 games against the Yankees
- 3 games against the Rays
- 2 games against the Red Sox
These 29 games, pretty much half their schedule, are against strong teams, all of whom are expected to compete for the 2020 World Series title.
Further, all but the Red Sox made the playoffs last season.
The Phillies do have some favorable matches (notably 7 games against the Marlins and 3 against the Orioles) but the overall schedule is very tough.
On the other hand, let’s look at the Cincinnati Reds and their schedule.
As you will see, they are only scheduled to play two teams that made the 2019 playoffs (9 games against the Cardinals and 3 against the Twins.)
But they also have 20 games, a third of their entire schedule, against awful teams, including:
- 10 games against Pittsburgh
- 6 games against Detroit
- 4 games against Kansas City
So, with all this in mind, it’s almost unfair to have the Phillies and the Reds compete for the same Wild Card spot.
This has been reflected in the betting odds.
Cincinnati was priced at +170 to make the playoffs in March; they’re now at +110.
Philadelphia started at +190; they’re now +215.
The sportsbooks were quick to adjust their odds based on each teams’ strength of schedule.
You need to do the same with your sports investing strategies.
Pay attention to each team’s schedule for the upcoming 2020 MLB season before making any bets – especially for futures!
Relief Pitchers Must Pitch To At Least Three Batters
This was always going to come into play for the 2020 MLB season, no matter if COVID-19 came into play or not.
And it’s a big deal!
Baseball strategy has evolved with technology.
More decisions based on matchups have been made as a result.
For example, the number of pitchers used throughout the season has increased year on year since 2013.
But that doesn’t matter now.
The new rules mean that all relief pitchers must face at least three batters per appearance.
The idea behind it is to speed up play, but it poses a risk to the strategy behind the sport.
Some teams will be affected by the rule change more than others.
The Rays and the Brewers, for example, like to be creative with their bullpens, but they will feel the effects the most.
The Rays would normally empty their bullpen but the new rules mean this tactic won’t happen again.
So, when you’re making 2020 MLB predictions, make sure you consider late innings.
This becomes even more important when a starter won’t get too heavily involved in the game.
If a team used the bullpen a lot, they’re going to concede more runs this year compared to previous years.
Baseball won’t be the same ever again.
The changes to roster rules and 60-game schedules may be temporary, but others like the relief pitchers pitching to at least three batters are there for the long-term.
We don’t know how they’ll impact the results, but sports bettors need to get a good picture early on to either take advantage or make adjustments.