With more pluses than minuses, the Phillies could be at full strength for the new Opening Day or shortly thereafter, and shortcomings that alarmed many fans will probably not be factors in the National League East.
China was secretive regarding early reports of COVID-19. And the events they set in motion are currently affecting the Philadelphia Phillies, their divisional foes and the entire major leagues. In fact, this shortened season could produce an uncertain outcome like a five-game playoff series. Coin flip, no?
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Finally, Opening Day was two weeks away with camp winding down. And, now, baseball could be a year away in some locals’ views, while others are hoping for an 81-game summer with a postseason. For me, though, there are questions of which fans will read articles for a baseball fix and those who won’t without on-field action.
If COVID-19 is seasonal, baseball could return in early June for four weeks of spring training, and the campaign could begin in early July. But the Great Depression, World War I and World War II could not do what COVID-19 is threatening. Ergo, no living fan has ever had a summer without baseball.
On the bright side, camp would require 3-4 weeks for pitchers to build up their arm strength. But experimenting with a new pitch or refining one to be above average probably won’t be an option. Additionally, regulars will get their at-bats, and reserves will draw the short straw.
The season will be all the contests they can squeeze in. Translation: playing for only three months will mean off-day adjustments and day-night doubleheaders. And most of the increased competition will be against divisional rivals.
However, organizations in the NL Central and NL West will not face the NL East franchises equally. And if the Fightins are lucky, they will miss certain teams and play against weaker opponents. So, ’20 could really be the luck of the draw.
Time could work to the red pinstripes’ advantage by allowing key players to heal and not miss many –if any– games. And even though some pitchers weren’t ready for April, they could play a bigger role for this 2020 squad than originally envisioned.