It only makes sense that a strange 2020 season would have an even stranger postseason, which should translate to some compelling October baseball.
The MLB postseason is here and due to the shortened 60-game season, the postseason has been expanded to include 16 teams – eight from the National League and eight from the American League. But the changes go beyond just the number of teams in this year’s Fall Classic, so here’s what you need to know about the 2020 MLB postseason format.
How the team seeding will work
The three divisional winners in each league will be seeded 1 through 3, followed by the three teams that finished in second place of their division at 4 through 6, and the final two postseason spots go to the teams with the next best records.
We’ve got the TV schedule for each series here, but the one seed will face the eight seed, the second seed will face the seventh seed, the third plays the sixth, and the fourth would play the fifth seed in the 1st round.
Since 2012, the MLB postseason has always been four rounds: the Wild Card Series (best of three), Division Series (best of five), League Championship Series, and finally the World Series (best of seven). The four rounds will remain intact but the Wild Card series will be played at the home ballpark of the higher seed – a massive advantage since it will be the only time a team will truly be the “home” team.
The MLB is heading to the bubble
After the first round, AL teams will head to either San Diego or Los Angeles while NL teams will be playing in Houston or Arlington as the MLB plans on playing the Divisional Series on in neutral sites. The 2020 World Series will be the first to have ever taken place at a neutral site, an extra safety precaution the MLB is taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among the players and staff.
There will also be no off-days in the middle Wild Card Series, Divisional Series, and Championship Series rounds as teams will not need to travel. But that does mean pitching and rotation depth will be more important than ever, especially as the series go from three to five to seven games.
The World Series will be played in Arlington, TX at Globe Life Field starting October 20th and will go no later than October 28th.
Other 2020 specific rule changes
We saw the MLB integrate three major rule changes being: the DH coming to the NL, the three-batter minimum for pitchers, and the extra innings rule with a runner starting on second base. The extra-innings rule will not be continued into the postseason, that rule was only in effect for the 2020 regular season.
However, the three-batter minimum was a permanent amendment to the official rules, so that will be in effect for this postseason. So will the DH in the NL as that rule was put in place for the entirety of the 2020 championship season.
Rosters will remain at 28 players and teams can choose to have up to five players on their taxi squad. And it’s important to note that this format is only in effect for 2020, and while things are always likely to change in regards to COVID, any real changes to the postseason format would need to be addressed in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement – which is set to expire in 2021.
But the 60-game season has concluded, the postseason seeding is set, and playoff baseball commences on Tuesday, September 29th – get excited baseball fans!