The 5 biggest storylines for the 2020 MLB season

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

June 26th, 2020

Now that it appears an MLB season will take place as soon as July 23, it’s a good time to review that major storylines heading into this abbreviated 2020 campaign. Here are the five subjects that figure to grab the most headlines during the 60-game season.

5. The Nationals as defending champs

The Nationals can’t afford to start the year 19-31 like they did in 2019. They’ll also have to figure out ways to generate offense without All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is now plying his trade for the Angels. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg can only do so much on the mound.

4. Mookie Betts in L.A.

The biggest trade that took place over the winter was clearly the deal that sent Mookie Betts from the Red Sox to the Dodgers.

The 2018 AL MVP will try to get L.A. over the hump following their unceremonious first-round exit last year on the heels of consecutive World Series defeats. The Dodgers look like the team to beat in 2020 with 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger also in the lineup and ace starters Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler taking their turn every fifth day.

3. Gerrit Cole in New York

The Yankees went from a great-but-tragically-flawed club to a legitimate World Series contender with the addition of Gerrit Cole this past winter. Cole is the favorite to take home his first career Cy Young Award, but it will be interesting to see how he fares outside of Houston in a more hitter-friendly park in front of no fans.

2. New rules

The new "three-batter minimum" rule, which says that a reliever cannot exit a game without facing at least three batters (unless an inning concludes) was going to be a storyline in 2020 even before COVID-19 struck. Now that new wrinkle will be just another part of a very odd campaign.

The DH will be in use in both leagues this year, possibly serving as a prelude to the future of the sport. Another brand-new rule in 2020, for the sake of shortening games, is the "runner-on-second" mandate for extra-inning games.

1. The Astros, post-sign-stealing scandal

Just about every MLB fan will be keeping tabs on the Astros in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal. They are, without question, the most interesting team in the majors in 2020 as they have so many questions to answer. Will Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve regress without the help they received at home games over the last two seasons? How will their rotation fare without Gerrit Cole? Can Dusty Baker, on a one-year contract at age 71, cobble together a World Series run and fill that gap on his résumé? Only time will tell, but Houston must be pleased that there will be few or no fans allowed at games to heckle them.

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