2020 MLB playoffs format, schedule and what you need to know

After an unprecedented shortening of the regular season due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball expanded the postseason from 10 to 16 teams in 2020, giving more than half of the teams the chance for a World Series crown. Some aspects of the 2020 postseason will seem familiar, but there are big changes this year.

Here’s what you need to know when heading into the postseason.

How can I watch the playoffs?

The Division Series starts on Monday. The full postseason schedule and TV details can be found below.

How many teams made it to the playoffs?

Sixteen teams – eight from the American League and eight from the National League. Each of the three division winners and runners-up in the league has earned a place. Then the last two wildcard berths in each league were determined by the teams with the next best records.

In the first round of the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays with the best seeds defeated the Toronto Blue Jays to advance to the division series. The rays hit the New York Yankees, who defeated the Cleveland Indians in two games. The Houston Astros, who extended the Minnesota Twins’ playoff misery with a sweep on the road, advanced to face the Oakland Athletics, who also scored a sweep over the Chicago White Sox.

In the National League, the top seeds quickly beat their opponents in the first round – the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to a two-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, while the Atlanta Braves were not allowed to run into a sweep over the Cincinnati Reds.

Two teams that have dealt with coronavirus outbreaks this season – the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins – both made the postseason. The Marlins beat the Chicago Cubs in the first round and will face the Braves next. The San Diego Padres overtook the Cardinals 2-1 in the first round and will now face the Dodgers.

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Where are games played?

The division series, championship series, and world championships are played at neutral locations in Southern California and Texas. The World Series begins October 20th at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Tex.

How does the bracket work?

The new postseason format includes four rounds, starting with the wildcard series.

Wildcard series (best-of-three in each league):

  • No. 1 versus No. 8
  • No. 2 versus No. 7
  • No. 3 versus No. 6
  • No. 4 versus No. 5

All games are played at the home stadium of the higher seed.

Divisional series (Best-of-Five): In each league, the winner of 1 against 8 plays the winner of 4 against 5, while the winner of 2 against 7 plays the winner of 3 against 6.

The American League Division Series teams play at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego, while the National League Division Series teams play at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas and Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will host division series games as well as the National League Championship Series and the World Series. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)

Games during the American League Division Series and AL Championship Series rounds are played at Petco Park, San Diego. (Orlando Ramirez / AP)

LEFT: Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will host division series games as well as the National League Championship Series and the World Series. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) CORRECT: In Petco Park, San Diego, games are played during the round of the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series. (Orlando Ramirez / AP)

League Championship Series (Best of Seven): The ALDS winners will meet for the American League Championship Series at Petco Park, while the NLDS winners will play in the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field.

Like the divisional series, which will take place on five consecutive days, the championship series in both leagues will not include travel days and will be played on seven consecutive days.

World Series (Best-of-Seven): The American League Champion and the National League Champion meet at Globe Life Field. Game 1 is scheduled for October 20th. The higher-seeded team – not necessarily the team with the best record – will reportedly have the last bats in Games 1 and 2 and, if necessary, Games 6 and 7.

Will there be fans?

Cardboard cutouts have replaced fans in the stadiums this season. (Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

The league announced on Wednesday that 11,500 fans will be admitted to every NLCS and World Series game in Arlington. 10,550 tickets for distributed seats in Globe Life Field and another 950 tickets for suites.

Texas is in phase 3 of its reopening, where open-air venues can accommodate up to 50 percent. MLB said in its statement that it has received “appropriate approvals” and will implement security protocols in conjunction with local and state regulations.

Masks are mandatory for all fans except when they are eating or drinking. Hand disinfection stations are available around the stadium. Tickets are sold in pods of 4; These pods, which cannot be broken apart for separate sale, will be six feet apart.

What else will be different?

Some new rules introduced in 2020 remain in the postseason – including the universal hitter and the three-stroke minimum for pitchers. However, the regular season rule of placing a runner on second base to start each additional inning does not apply in the postseason.

The schedule for the postseason is structured differently this year too, as there are no non-working days in the middle of the series in the two rounds before the World Series. That could have a strategic impact on pitching.

Will the expanded format become the new normal?

While the 16-team format only covers the season shortened by the pandemic, Manfred remains a proponent of adding more teams to the postseason beyond this year. He said earlier this month “an overwhelming majority” of owners were in favor of an expanded postseason format even before the pandemic.

Explaining these comments in an interview with Dave Sheinin of The Post, he said the 16-team format happened because “we were going to have a short season and we thought the nicest thing would be to give maximum access to the postseason.” Before the pandemic, MLB had discussed an idea with 14 teams for the postseason.

“In every advanced playoff conversation that went ahead of Covid there was never a 16-team conversation and all of those conversations were aimed at preserving the value of the division’s win and maintaining competitiveness throughout the long regular season” so Manfred said.

“Yes I think so [postseason expansion] is a good idea. Do I ever think there will be 16 teams? No, I do not. We’ve always had a very selective postseason, and I think one of the factors that play a role in judging the number of teams we’re expanding to is our desire to maintain that selectivity. “

Any expansion would ultimately have to be settled through collective bargaining with the players’ union. The sports collective agreement expires after the 2021 season.

Complete schedule

Division series

Best-of-five; ALDS in San Diego and Los Angeles, NLDS in Arlington, Texas and Houston.

5th October

Game 1: Astros 10, Athletics 5 (Astros Lead Series, 1-0)

Game 1: Yankees 9, Rays 3 (Yankees lead series, 1-0)

October 6th

Marlins at Braves, Game 1 – 2:08 pm, MLB Network

Astros at Athletics, Game 2 – 4:37 p.m., TBS

Yankees at Rays, Game 2 – 8:10 p.m., TBS

Padres at Dodgers, Game 1 – 9:38 p.m., FS1

October 7th

Marlins at Braves, Game 2 – 2:08 pm, MLB Network

Rays at Yankees, Game 3 – 3:35 p.m., TBS

Athletics at Astros, Game 3 – 7:10 p.m., TBS

Padres at Dodgers, Game 2 – 9:08 p.m., FS1

8th October

Braves at Marlins, Game 3 – 2:08 pm, FS1

Athletics at Astros, Game 4 – if necessary, 3:35 p.m., TBS

Rays at Yankees, Game 4 – 7:10 pm if necessary, TBS

Dodgers at Padres, Game 3 – 9:08 p.m., MLB Network

9th October

Braves at Marlins, Game 4 – if necessary, 2:08 p.m., FS1

Athletics at Astros, Game 5 – if necessary, 3:35 p.m., TBS

Rays at Yankees, Game 5 – 7:10 p.m. if necessary, TBS

Dodgers at Padres, Game 4 – 9:08 PM if required, FS1

October 10th

Padres at Dodgers, Game 5 – 4:08 PM if necessary, FS1

Marlins at Braves, Game 5 – if necessary, 8:08 pm, FS1

League championship series

Best-of-seven; ALCS in San Diego, NLCS in Arlington, Tex.

October 11th

ALCS game 1, TBS

October 12th

ALCS game 2, TBS

NLCS game 1, Fox or FS1

October 13th

ALCS game 3, TBS

NLCS Game 2, Fox or FS1

October 14th

ALCS game 4, TBS

NLCS Game 3, Fox or FS1

15th October

ALCS Game 5, TBS – if required

NLCS, Game 4, Fox or FS1

October, 16th

ALCS Game 6, TBS – if required

NLCS, Game 5, Fox or FS1 – if required

October 17th

ALCS Game 7, TBS – if required

NLCS Game 6, Fox or FS1 – if required

October 18

NLCS Game 7, Fox or FS1 – if required

World series

Best-of-seven; Arlington, Tex.

the 20th of October

Game 1, Fox

October 21

Game 2, Fox

23rd October

Game 3, Fox

October 24th

Game 4, Fox

October 25

Game 5, Fox – if necessary

October 27

Game 6, Fox – if required

28th of October

Game 7, Fox – if necessary


First round series

Best of three

Tuesday, September 29th

Game 1: Astros 4, twins 1

Game 1: White Sox 4, Athletics 1

Game 1: Rays 3, Blue Jays 1

Game 1: Yankees 12, Indians 3

Wednesday September 30th

Game 1: Braves 1, Reds 0 (13 innings) (Braves lead 1-0)

Game 2: Astros 3, Twins 1 (Astros wins series 2-0)

Game 1: Marlins 5, Cubs 1 (Marlins lead 1-0)

Game 2: Athletics 5, White Sox 3 (series draw 1-1)

Game 2: Rays 8, Blue Jays 2 (Rays win series 2-0)

Game 2: Cardinals 7, Padres 4 (Cardinals lead 1-0)

Game 2: Yankees 10, Indians 9 (Yankees win series, 2-0)

Game 1: Dodgers 4, Brewers 2 (Dodgers lead, 1-0)

Thursday October 1st

Game 2: Braves 5, Reds 0 (Braves win series, 2-0)

Game 2: Marlins at Cubs, postponed

Game 3: Athletics 6, White Sox 4 (Athletics wins series, 2-1)

Game 2: Padres 11, Cardinals 9 (series draw, 1-1)

Game 2: Dodgers 3, Brewers 0 (Dodgers win series, 2-0)

Friday October 2nd

Game 2: Marlins 2, Cubs 0 (Marlins win series, 2-0)

Game 3: Padres 4, Cardinals 0 (Padres win series, 2-1)