Get ready for a memorable season

Phillies manager Joe Girardi
There's plenty of unknowns as the baseball season opens later this week, and compounding matters is the frenzied style of a 60-game schedule - it'll be memorable for sure.

Unlike a standard 162-game season, there's going to be some surprises in a shortened season. Expanded rosters, empty ballparks, and a limited number of opponents are going to make things unpredictable, for sure. Odds for the Opening Night/Day games have already been updated here and going forward, it’ll update automatically for any new and upcoming games for the season.

“All of us are wondering what it's going to be like — Game 3, Game 4, Game 10, Game 20 — without fans in the stands, because I think players use fans for energy," Phillies manager Joe Girardi told NBC Philadelphia last week. “But there was a different feel tonight, which made me feel better about what we're doing.”

The strangeness translates also to fantasy baseball, where owners will have to navigate a world where teams are planning to be less open about their lineups and starting pitcher announcements.

“Openly I’ve been working on six or seven rosters so it’s just a little bit premature to know for sure, but we have some more fleshed out thoughts over the course of the last few days than we did a week ago and I would imagine that’ll be the case a week from now as well,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters last week.

Head-to-head fantasy owners are probably in the toughest spot, especially those restricted to setting weekly lineups as it may be difficult to project starting pitchers late in the week, especially early in the season as managers will adhere to pitch counts and innings limits.

In addition to the normal injuries that impact a traditional season, we'll have COVID-19 to deal with this season. Some experts around the game believe a battle with COVID-19 could sideline a player for a minimum of three weeks, if not more.

“It’s a very real, very dangerous virus for some people and I’m lucky that it didn’t affect me that bad," said Rockies' outfielder Charlie Blackmon.

An alternative to fantasy baseball this year for diehard fans could sit with the online sportsbooks and gambling.

"I think we'll see a ton of action this season," said Charlies Samsin, a gambling expert based in Philadelphia. "People are looking to get back to betting on the big-four sports and it so happens that baseball is the first sport back. Adding to the challenges though is this new idea of teams not sharing lineups or starting pitchers until close to first pitch. That won't work for most fantasy leagues, but it could work if you're a smart gambler."

"If you plan things out and keep a level head, this could be a very profitable stretch," Samsin said.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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