New year, new season: Examining the Brewers' 2020 schedule
The Milwaukee Brewers' 2020 schedule continues to come into focus, as Major League Baseball announced home and road game times and national TV matchups this week ahead of the upcoming season.
Fresh off consecutive postseason appearances, the Brewers find themselves in the primetime spotlight with some regularity this year. Though only the Fox and ESPN national broadcasts have been announced through mid-August (TBS and MLB Network also carry national games), the Brewers are featured in the headliner contest five times, including in ESPN's season-opening Sunday Night Baseball broadcast at home against the Chicago Cubs on March 29.
Take a peek around the league, and that five-game mark holds up. Classic big-market organizations such as the Los Angeles Dodgers (9), New York Yankees (8), Cubs (8) and Boston Red Sox (7) lead the league in Fox/ESPN matchups, but they do not dominate the airwaves as much as one might expect.
Milwaukee, somewhat surprisingly, is slated to appear on national television more than the Philadelphia Phillies (2), Los Angeles Angels (3), Atlanta Braves (4) and even the defending champion Washington Nationals (3). Grabbing high-profile matchups certainly is not the end-all, be-all, but it is a positive indicator of the type of franchise that David Stearns and Craig Counsell have built together.
Other scheduling notes to know
MLB's rotating interleague system pits the NL Central against the AL East in 2020, which means Milwaukee will host the Yankees (May 19-21) and the Toronto Blue Jays (June 22-24), as well square off with the Tampa Bay Rays in a home-and-home four-game set (May 30-31 at Tropicana Field and July 7-8 at Miller Park). Fortunately for Brewers fans, the Crew are making the trip to two of the finer ballparks in America as Milwaukee will visit the Boston Red Sox and its hallowed Fenway Park from June 5-7, as well as the Baltimore Orioles and the classic Camden Yards from Sept. 11 to 13. The Brewers have not played at Fenway Park since April 2014, when they spoiled the then-defending champs' ring ceremony with a three-game sweep behind starts from noted greats Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta and Yovani Gallardo.
The Brewers have made a habit of flipping the switch late in the year, posting a combined 40-14 record over the past two Septembers en route to the playoffs. But this season, they will have to do most of their work against their chief rivals, the Cubs, in the early portion of the schedule. Milwaukee plays 13 games against Chicago before the All-Star break, and completes the season series with the Cubbies at home on Aug. 9. It remains to be seen if the Cubs are still true contenders in the NL Central, but the Brewers' early-season record against Chicago could be the difference between the Cubs buying or selling at the July 31 trade deadline.
And though we are still nine months away from the MLB stretch run, it's never too early to look ahead, as the Brewers could be destined for even more September magic. Beginning on Aug. 20, 24 of Milwaukee's final 36 games come against the likes of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and San Francisco. All four teams finished under .500 a year ago, and only the Reds seem to be putting any effort into winning games this season. Even with new rule changes slashing September rosters from 40 men to 28 – potentially impacting the Brewers' bullpenning strategy in the process – Counsell still has shown a unique ability to squeeze every win from the players he has on the field.
With another soft slate to finish the season, the Brewers could be in the line for their third straight trip to the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
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