HOUSTON – It is finally time to play ball in Major League Baseball after the owners’ side and players association pushed aside their differences and got a deal in place that will get this season underway in about a month.
While the two sides’ relationship is not healthy, they will focus now on getting in this 2020 season and crowning a World Series champion this fall.
Can the Astros get back and try to win again like they did in 2017?
Last year, they fell just short in a series loss to the Washington Nationals. Now in 2020, the club remains a favorite and is loaded across the board. Even with co-ace Gerritt Cole departing to wear the pinstripes, the talent pool remains deep for new skipper Dusty Baker.
There are questions to be answered, of course, like any club as the Astros lock-in on opening day.
What happens now for the Astros with the deal done?
The Astros have put in their own work during this long break and most players will arrive for the start of training ahead of schedule. That will definitely be the case for the hitters. Camps open July 1 so Wednesday will be the big day at Minute Maid Park as the guys report on day one.
How will the season schedule play out?
It’s a 60-game season and unlike the 162-game marathon, this will be a sprint to the finish line and a season where every game counts. Mediocre teams can play well during a short stretch like this and somehow sneak into the playoffs so the Astros need to come out strong. The Astros will play their AL West rivals for 40 games and the other 20 against the NL West. Yes, that includes the hated LA Dodgers! Schedules are still being finalized and MLB will get those out perhaps by next week.
How is Verlander?
Justin Verlander is the ace of the club once again but has slowly rehabbed from his setback in March he had with his groin and that eventually led to a Lat injury as well. He had a procedure done and has eased back into top form for 3 months. He’ll talk next week but all signs point to him being good to go.
Will fans eventually be allowed inside the stadiums?
Owner Jim Crane said on a video conference call Wednesday morning that it’s his expectation that fans will eventually be allowed to attend games. How that might look is anyone’s guess still at this point. There is a lot to process on that front and with current spikes in COVID-19 in the Houston area that could delay a decision.