MLB’s new 2020 playoff schedule helps solve postseason pitching management

The pandemic has ruined most things. But it may have inadvertently helped solve one of MLB’s recent problems: excruciating postseason pitching management.

MLB released its playoff schedule on Tuesday. Much of the announcement confirmed the rumors that had been swirling for weeks: The first-round, three-game series will be played entirely at the home of the better seed, after which the league will move to four neutral sites. (It is incorrect to refer to these setups as bubbles, since they are not sealed.) The American League Division Series will be held at San Diego’s Petco Park and at Los Angeles’s Dodger Stadium, the National League Division Series at Houston’s Minute Maid Park and at Globe Life Field, in Arlington, Texas. The ALCS will be at Petco and the NLCS at Globe Life, and then the teams will converge at Globe Life for the World Series. (The thinking here is that no one will have home field advantage unless the Rangers pull off one of the most impressive comebacks in sports history.)

But the schedule contained an additional wrinkle: Because there will be no travel, there will be no travel days in the first three rounds. (They will retain the off-days after Games 2 and 5 of the World Series.) This adjustment could change the entire postseason.

Over the past half-decade, managers have begun using the off-days to reshape their bullpen management. If you only play three games in a row twice in October, you can get away with relying only on your best three starters and a handful of relievers. If you run into trouble late in a game, bring in whichever starter is on his throw day.

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