How shorter MLB schedule could impact fantasy baseball

If you took the sensible route and put off your fantasy baseball draft until there was more clarity as to when the 2020 MLB season would begin, you are now tasked with a variety of strategy adjustments. How you approach drafting starting pitching is something at which everyone is now studying. It’s the same with when to start looking at rookies and when to target speed.

What few people have in the forefront of their mind, however, is what the schedule will look like once games officially begin. How MLB handles the schedule could have a serious impact on teams and players you should target or avoid.

Right now, what we know for certain, is that MLB and the players’ union have agreed to play through the end of November with the possibility of playoff games and the World Series being moved to neutral sites where weather is not a concern. While potential start dates ranging from June 1 to July 4 weekend have been bandied about, we are told that, no matter what the start date is, the schedule will pick up from that point and MLB will then use May’s schedule for the month of October. April’s schedule is also being considered as a possibility as well.

Though that may seem innocuous enough, it could significantly impact your decision-making for fantasy. For the past several years, MLB has implemented an imbalanced schedule to allow teams to play more meaningful games within their division, and smart fantasy owners have used that to their advantage when choosing players.

Would you prefer to own Mike Moustakas, who plays all his home games at Great American Ballpark then eight or nine road games in hitter-friendly sites like Miller Park and Wrigley Field, or Matt Chapman who plays his home games in Oakland then travels mostly to pitchers’ parks in the AL West?

The Blue Jays seem to be the team most impacted by the potential schedule changes and have some of the most coveted players in fantasy right now. The “Baby Jays” are flush with young talent — Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio — and though you definitely want ownership in keeper and dynasty leagues, you may want to pump the brakes in redraft leagues this season.

The current MLB schedule has the Jays playing the lowly Orioles 13 of their 17 times in April and May. Both the Rogers Centre and Camden Yards are hitter-friendly and, let’s face facts, the Orioles’ pitching staff is just a shade better than atrocious. If even half these games don’t get played, the Jays are going to lose a decent amount of their offensive totals in a truncated season.

We, obviously, have to wait until MLB makes their final schedule decisions, and that likely won’t come until we have a firm start-date. If you’re looking to gain an edge in your league, studying the current schedule and projecting potential games lost, could be the ticket you need punched this year.

Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at Fantasy-Alarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 5-7 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.

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