MLB 2020 schedule
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MLB 2020 schedule: Yankees-Nationals, Giants-Dodgers kick off season

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Baseball took center stage Monday evening as the MLB 2020 schedule was unveiled.

As expected, the Yankees and Nationals will kick off the season on Thursday, July 23, a likely matchup featuring Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer at 7 PM ET. At 10 ET, the two NL West rivals will square off, which could very well feature Johnny Cueto against Clayton Kershaw. The rest of the teams jump into action on Friday, July 24.

RELATED: How will the 2020 season work?

Due to the pandemic, the MLB 2020 schedule was formulated to reduce travel as much as realistically possible. Of the 60 games, 40 of them will be played against division rivals. The other 20 will be played against teams in the same division of the other league. For example, the Yankees will play 40 games against the Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles, as well as 20 games against the Braves, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, and Marlins. The Yankees will not play any teams from the AL Central, AL West, NL Central, or NL West.

Needless to say, there is much more imbalance with the schedule than it would have otherwise. The Mets, for example, have a much tougher schedule than, say, the Astros, simply because both East divisions are collectively stronger than the West divisions.

The playoffs are still expected to start on time in early October with the same format: three division winners and two Wild Cards from each league. The Wild Cards will play a one-game playoff to face the highest seed in each league in the Division Series. The two winners of each Division Series in each league move on to play in the League Championship Series. Of course, the two winners of those square off in the World Series.

The baseball season is normally described as a marathon rather than a sprint due to the 162-game schedule. But with only 60 games on the MLB 2020 schedule, it is now much more of a sprint.

MLB 2020 season openers

AWAY HOME TIME (ET)
July 23
Yankees Nationals 7 p.m.*
Giants Dodgers 10 p.m.*
July 24
Braves Mets 4:10 p.m.*
Tigers Reds 6:10 p.m.
Blue Jays Rays 6:40 p.m.
Marlins Phillies 7:05 p.m.
Brewers Cubs 7:10 p.m.*
Royals Indians 7:10 p.m.
Orioles Red Sox 7:30 p.m.
Rockies Rangers 8:05 p.m.
Twins White Sox 8:10 p.m.
Pirates Cardinals 8:15 p.m.
Diamondbacks Padres 9:10 p.m.
Mariners Astros 9:10 p.m.
Angels Athletics 10:10 p.m

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.