Although it hardly feels like it, the 2020 season is upon us, with the real, live, actual, going-to-count-in-the-history-books-even-though-it-feels-wrong action set to begin tonight (!) and run through the end of September. This 60-game sprint of a season is going to be unique for oh so many reasons, but still, regular season baseball is a balm I think we could all use right now, and it will be on our TVs in just over 24 hours.
Let’s take a look at what Rays fans will want to be keeping an eye on over the Opening Weekend.
Unlike most MLB Opening Days, the 2020 version has just two games on the slate, with the action beginning at 7:08 EST.
The good news is that that post-dinner matchup is a gem, and one that Rays fans will have interest in: Yankees @ Nationals, 7:08 p.m. EST, ESPN. The Division rival Yanks and their new ace Gerrit Cole squaring up against the reigning champs and their own multi-multi-multi-million dollar arm, Max Scherzer. Two of the best teams in baseball led by arguably the two best pitchers in baseball, with the added bonus of one team being the Rays most likely competitor for the division? Plus, it’s baseball. back. Everyone reading this will be tuning in to ESPN at 7.
The late game on Thursday will feature the 2020 favorites (OOTP just officially picked the Dodgers as their 2020 World Series winners and they have been right each of the past three seasons) in Los Angeles versus... arguably the worst and least interesting team in baseball, San Francisco (Giants @ Dodgers, 10:08 p.m. EST, ESPN). Add to the fact that Evan Longoria will be missing in action for the season debut for the Giants, and you probably won’t feel the need to stay up too late on a weeknight (what even are weeknights these days) unless you’re in full baseball junkie mode from the start... which means I look forward to chatting with you all in the DRB open thread at 1:30 a.m. EST...
The first full day of baseball action isn’t quite as spread out as usual, but there’s still plenty to watch.
There’s only one true afternoon game on the slate, with the Braves and Mets teeing off at 4:10 EST. The Mets haven’t even named a starter yet, and while these are a pair of teams the Rays will be facing with the location-based 2020 schedule, it’s probably not a must-watch.
However, the true must-watch of the weekend takes place just a few hours later, as you all well know, with the Blue Jays @ Rays, 6:40 p.m. EST, FOX Sports Sun. The Rays first game of 2020 will feature a supreme pitching match-up between Rays returning ace, Charlie Morton (getting his first Opening Day start) and the Jays newly-acquired and perpetually-underrated Hyun-jin Ryu.
That match-up should hold all Rays fans attention throughout, but if you’re looking for baseball to watch during commercials (because you’re a junkie who has the MLB package), flip back and forth with either the Twins @ White Sox, 8:10 p.m. EST, MLB.TV or Orioles @ Red Sox, 7:30 p.m. EST, MLB.TV. The Twins and White Sox are potential Wild Card threats, and the pitching match-up of Jose Berrios and Lucas Giolito is a spicy one, while the Sox and O’s are division rivals, and ex-Ray Nathan Eovaldi will be on the bump for Boston... as their Opening Day starter... Rejoice, rejoice.
With all the chaos surrounding the start of the 2020 season, there is A WHOLE LOT of unknowns regarding even two-three days out right now. As such, of the 60 pitchers potentially to be named for Saturday and Sunday, more than half are still listed as TBD, which makes picking out the best games to watch a little trickier. Even still, here are a few not to miss:
Saturday: Blue Jays @ Rays, 3:10 p.m. EST, FOX Sports Sun
Sunday: Blue Jays @ Rays, 1:10 p.m. EST, FOX Sports Sun
Obviously you’re watching these, no questions asked, no explanation necessary here.
Saturday: Diamondbacks @ Padres, 9:10 p.m. EST, FS1
One of only two full pitching match-ups set for Saturday, and it’s a good one, with Robbie Ray taking on popular breakout pick, Dinelson Lamet on National TV. Plus, viewers will get the added bonus of watching the Rays new most common trade partner in the Padres, with Tommy Pham and Emilio Pagan potentially taking the field as ex-Rays supreme.
Sunday: Angels @ Athletics, 4:10 p.m. EST, MLB Network
These are the two teams I have pegged as the Rays stiffest competition for the AL Wild Card, and it’s always good to scout your competition. Plus, there’s some guy named Trout out there on the West Coast who may well be one of the five best players in baseball history, and we should all take every chance we can get to watch him play. The perfect follow-up to what is hopefully a Rays sweep, and a 3-0 start to the season... (of course, we all know it won’t be that easy)