The shortened Major League Baseball season got a step closer to starting on Monday when the 60-game schedule was released for each of the 30 teams in the league.
To help cut down on travel, it was agreed upon between MLB and the players’ union that teams would play a majority of their games against teams in their division and the rest against teams in the division of the opposite league (AL West against L West, for example).
The defending American League champion Houston Astros will open the season on July 24 with a six-game homestand and play 40 of its games against AL West teams and the other 20 against National League West teams.
Minute Maid Park will host baseball in Houston for a 20th season after opening in 2000 and the Astros will play half of their games there in a pandemic-shortened season that will have the latest start date in MLB history. According to the Houston communications staff, the previous latest date for the Astros to start a season was April 26, 1995.
The Astros will only travel as far as California but will do so five times throughout the season to face the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. In August, Houston travels to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks for three games and Colorado for a two-game set with the Rockies.
Daren Willman and MLB Advanced Media determined the two Texas teams will be traveling the most through this unprecedented season. The Rangers are estimated to have 14,706 miles of travel over the season and the Astros expected to travel 13,954 miles.
The battle for the lone star state will close the season with all three of Houston’s series against the Texas Rangers taking place in September. A pair of three-game series will be played at Minute Maid Park and a four-game set will close the regular season from Sept. 24 to 27 at Arlington’s new Globe Life Park.
The Astros will be in search of their fourth consecutive AL West crown after matching a previous club record of three straight division championships from 1997 to 1999. Last season saw Houston with a club-record 107 wins on the season, which also topped the league.
The postseason format remains intact through negotiations and will keep the top 10 teams in the league with the three division winners from each league and two wild card teams per league. The Astros haven’t qualified for the playoffs in four consecutive seasons in club history.
The New York Yankees and defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals will kick the season off on July 23 in the nation’s capital with former Houston hurler Gerrit Cole taking the pitcher’s mound against Max Scherzer, who started the bookending games of the historic 2019 World Series.