Ever since Major League Baseball announced its plan for a 60-game season, the Phillies knew they would face only teams from the National League East and American League East to minimize travel in a pandemic.
Now, though, they know what that schedule will look like -- if the coronavirus allows it to be played.
The Phillies are slated to open at home on July 24 against the Miami Marlins. But four of the first seven games (two at home, two on the road) are against the New York Yankees, who won 103 games last season and signed ace pitcher Gerrit Cole for $324 million in the offseason.
If the Phillies’ chances to end an eight-year postseason drought come down to the wire, it will be decided on the road with three games against the pitching-rich Tampa Bay Rays from Sept. 25 to 27.
The schedule includes 10 games against each NL East team (Atlanta, Washington, New York Mets, Miami). The Phillies will face the Toronto Blue Jays six times, the Yankees and Boston Red Sox four times apiece, and the Rays and Baltimore Orioles only three times. The Phillies won’t travel to Baltimore; the Rays won’t visit Citizens Bank Park.
There will be five road trips, two of which will be eight games.
Here’s what you need to know about the nine teams the Phillies will play in 2020:
2019 record: 93-69
2019 vs. the Phillies: 14-5
The Nationals lost Anthony Rendon this winter, but they did keep together their imposing starting rotation by re-signing Stephen Strasburg for $245 million. Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin posted a combined 3.18 ERA last season and are enough to make Washington the favorite to win the division in 2020. Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Adam Eaton, and the addition of Eric Thames -- who hit 25 homers last year in Milwaukee -- should help the Nats survive without Rendon. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross opted out for the season last week over coronavirus concerns and the team canceled its workout Monday because of delays in their testing results. -- Matt Breen
2019 record: 86-76
2019 vs. the Phillies: 7-12
The most notable new face in Queens will be the manager. It just isn’t the manager the Mets intended. In November, they hired former slugger Carlos Beltran, only to replace him in January after he was implicated in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. First-year manager Luis Rojas nevertheless takes the reins of a talent-rich roster built around power-packed first baseman Pete Alonso, super-utility star Jeff McNeil, and outfielder Michael Conforto. Even without Noah Syndergaard, who will miss the season because of Tommy John elbow surgery, the Mets’ strength remains starting pitching, with all-world Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and veteran newcomers Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Two X-factors: closer Edwin Diaz, who struggled last season, and oft-injured slugger Yoenis Cespedes. -- Scott Lauber
2019 record: 97-65
2019 vs. the Phillies: 9-10
It’s tough to find a better way to start a lineup than Ronald Acuna Jr. batting first and Ozzie Albies batting second. The two young stars combined last season for an .867 OPS to jump-start a lineup that scored the third-most runs in the National League. Freddie Freeman hit 38 homers last season, but he announced over the weekend that he tested positive for COVID-19. His status for the season is unclear. Nick Markakis opted out on Monday, telling reporters that his concerns grew after talking to Freeman. The Braves added Cole Hamels to the back of a rotation headed by Mike Soroka, who posted a 2.68 ERA last season. The Braves have won two straight division titles and enter the season as favorites to reach October again. -- Matt Breen
2019 record: 57-105
2019 vs. the Phillies: 10-9
The Marlins lost their opener last season and did not spend a single day with a winning record, but they were still a thorn in the Phillies’ side all year. The Marlins had a .526 winning percentage against the Phillies and a .245 mark against the rest of the National League East. The Marlins are still expected to finish in last place, but they did trade for Jonathan Villar, who hit 24 homers last season with Baltimore, and signed Corey Dickerson, who spent the final two months of last season with the Phillies. Sixto Sanchez, the top-flight pitching prospect the Phillies sent to acquire J.T. Realmuto, is in the Marlins’ player pool and could see action this season. -- Matt Breen
2019 record: 103-59
2019 vs. the Phillies: Did not play.
What do you call a team that won 103 games in the regular season, fell two victories shy of reaching the World Series, and still dropped $324 million to sign arguably the best pitcher in baseball? You call them the Yankees, of course. Even with Gerrit Cole, though, the Yankees aren’t immune to the same challenge facing every other team in a 60-game season amid a pandemic: steering clear of injuries and illness. Injuries hit them particularly hard last season, with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, and others missing considerable time. But shortstop Gleyber Torres is an emerging superstar, the rotation features three aces, and the Yankees are the clear-cut favorite to win the American League pennant. -- Scott Lauber
2019 record: 84-78
2019 vs. the Phillies: 2-2
In two years, the Red Sox have gone from a 108-win World Series-champion juggernaut to a third-place team with a new manager (Ron Roenicke) and head of baseball operations (Chaim Bloom). They lost their best pitcher (Chris Sale) for the season to Tommy John surgery and traded their best player (Mookie Betts) and second-best pitcher (David Price) to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a few prospects but mostly luxury-tax relief. Underestimate the Sox at your peril, though. With Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi in the top half of the batting order, they should score plenty of runs. They also usually have one of the best home-field advantages in baseball at Fenway Park, fans or no fans. - Scott Lauber
2019 record: (67-95)
2019 vs. Phillies: Did not play
The Blue Jays’ 95 losses last season were their most since 1980, but they might not be far away from a return to contention even in the rugged American League East. The reason is their tremendous young talent with exceptional bloodlines.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Sr.), Cavan Biggio (son of Hall of Famer Craig), and Bo Bichette (son of four-time All-Star Dante) all made their major-league debuts last season and are expected to be an integral part of the Blue Jays’ lineup this season. Guerrero, 21, hit .272 with 26 doubles and 15 home runs in 123 games; Biggio, 25, hit .234 with 17 doubles and 16 home runs in 100 games; and Bichette, 22, hit .311 with 18 doubles and 11 home runs in 46 games.
The Blue Jays are 35-28 all-time against the Phillies, including their six-game World Series victory in 1993. -- Bob Brookover
2019 record: 96-66
2019 vs. Phillies: Did not play
No team in baseball does more with less than the Rays, who returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 last season despite having the fifth-lowest payroll in the game at $69 million. After defeating Oakland in the wild-card game, the Rays lost their division series in five games to the American League champion Houston Astros.
The Rays made a great investment in Charlie Morton, signing the former Phillies pitcher to a two-year deal worth $30 million before last season, and he rewarded them by going 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA to finish third in the A.L. Cy Young Award voting. Blake Snell, the 2018 A.L. Cy Young winner, Tyler Glasnow, and Yonny Chirinos fill out one of the best starting rotations in the game.
The Rays have split 32 games all-time with the Phillies, including their five-game World Series loss in 2008. -- Bob Brookover
2019 record: 54-108
2019 vs. Phillies: Did not play
The Orioles improved by seven games last season and still lost 108 games. Only Detroit (114) lost more. Remarkably, however, the Orioles have been to the postseason three times since the Phillies last made a playoff appearance in 2011. The Phillies swept their four games with the O’s the last time they played, in 2018.
The O’s have the most overpaid player in baseball in Chris Davis, who has made $46 million the last two years while hitting .172 with a .564 OPS. He will get $8.5 million for this pandemic-shortened season and will still be owed $23 million each in 2021 and 2022.