COVID-19 Schedule Adjustments Do Phillies No Favorson August 7, 2020 at 6:02 pm

COVID-19 Schedule Adjustments Do Phillies No Favors

Due to the COVID-19 outbreaks on both the Marlins and Cardinals over the past few weeks, 15 games have been postponed so far this season that have yet to be made up. The postponements principally affect those two clubs due to their positive tests, but also the Phillies, who played against the Marlins as the outbreak happened, and several of those teams’ other scheduled opponents, including the Brewers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees. With the Phillies resuming play on Monday, the Marlins playing on Tuesday, and the Cardinals set to play tonight against the Cubs, the league sent out a revised schedule with plans to make up all of the missed games.

Unfortunately, that new schedule has already hit a snag, as earlier today, Mark Saxon reported (and MLB confirmed) that tonight’s Cardinals game against the Cubs will be postponed due to an additional positive COVID-19 test result. Jesse Rogers added that there was at least one positive new test. It’s possible the Cardinals schedule will require further tinkering, which would likely come in the form of more doubleheaders. With that said, the current new plan looks like this:

In addition to the nine teams affected by the postponements, the Red Sox and White Sox have also had their schedules altered slightly to accommodate the added games. More than one-third of the league has had their schedule materially changed due to the outbreaks. As the Marlins, Cardinals, and Phillies are the three clubs affected most by the new schedule, we’ll take a look at each team one at a time.

The Marlins

Here’s what the Marlins’ schedule looks like the rest of the way, taken from MLB’s app:

The rest of August doesn’t look too bad. They get two more off-days next week after playing seven games in six days from the 4th through the 9th. They do have to play 18 games in 17 days starting on the 14th, but they get a day off at the end of the month and then another on September 3rd. After that, though, the schedule gets brutal in terms of both the opponents and number of games.

The club is scheduled to play 28 games in the last 24 days of the season, and none of the opponents are bad, with the Phillies and Red Sox representing the weakest teams in the group. The stretch at home in the middle of the month has Miami playing 14 games in 10 days. Despite accounting for seven-inning doubleheaders, the Marlins are going to play, on average, 11 innings per day during that 10-day period. Even if they can somehow parlay a 6-1 start into playoff contention at the end of this month, September looks pretty brutal schedule-wise.

The Cardinals

Here’s how the tentative Cardinals schedule looks the rest of the way:

The Cardinals have a somewhat difficult stretch ahead of them right now, playing 21 games in 20 days with a trip to Detroit for a doubleheader sandwiched between a home stand and a trip to Chicago. Following their off-day on the 27th, they play a half-dozen games before getting another break, then finish the season straight through. Starting on September 4th in Chicago, the Cardinals play 28 games in 24 days. While they are fortunate that their Detroit doubleheader is in the middle of a home stand, they will play 10 games in seven days from the 10th to the 16th of September. That stretch sees the Cardinals actually average above 11 innings per day.

Although the Brewers will be listed as the home team for one of the games on the 25th, the game will be played in St. Louis, so no extra travel will be required. Five games against the Brewers in four days to close the season could have huge playoff implications. While the Cardinals’ schedule is busy, 17 of their remaining 55 games come against the Pirates, Royals, or Tigers, making their schedule a little bit easier than that of the Marlins.

The bright side of today’s Cubs-Cardinals postponement is that the teams have two more series against each other already on the calendar around which to play those extra games. While both series are to be played in Chicago, the Cardinals might end up serving as the home team there. With a 2-3 record, the Cardinals have the fewest wins in baseball and are tied for the second-fewest losses, behind only the 6-1 Marlins.

The Phillies

This is what the Phillies have to deal with:

The Phillies did not have a COVID-19 outbreak, but their schedule is still significantly impacted. The middle of this month sees the team playing seven games in six days in three cities: Boston, Buffalo, and Atlanta. The Phillies are somewhat fortunate that they get to keep a few off-days in September, but the beginning and middle of the month both look rough.

The team will play 14 straight days from August 25th to September 8th. After finishing a six-game home stand on the 3rd, the team then travels to New York for four games and then back home for a doubleheader against Boston. After a day off, the team starts a seven-game series against Miami that takes place over five days. A three-game series against the Mets at home is followed by a four-game series against the Blue Jays over three days (all at home, with the road team designation in one game). Even with the off-days, the Phillies play 36 games over the final 34 days of the season. From the 11th to the 18th, the club plays 11 games in eight days, or roughly 11 innings per day.

This season was going to be an unusual one from the start, and the postponements have wreaked further havoc on the schedule. The graph below shows games played so far this season.

Five teams have played at least double the games of the Phillies, Marlins, and Cardinals. Twenty-two of the 30 teams have played at least 20% of the season while the Cardinals have completed just 8% of their schedule. This is essentially the third time MLB has made a schedule for this season, counting the 162-game plan that disintegrated in March and the revised 60-game schedule that has now been revised again. MLB seems committed to getting through this season despite the difficulties posed by testing and a pandemic that is still quite active throughout the country. This might not be the last significant revision of the schedule, and the situation with the Cardinals bears further watching.

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