Baseball 'bubble' coming for playoffs, but Sox and Cubs could open at home
As it stands now, the White Sox and Cubs will both be playing postseason baseball in Chicago later this month.
MLB and the players' union agreed to a playoff format on Tuesday, and there will be a "bubble" setup for the Division Series, League Championship Series and the World Series.
The postseason has been expanded to 16 teams this year, and there will be eight best-of-three series in the opening round.
Those games will be played at the home stadiums of the higher-seeded team. The American League's first round begins Sept. 29 and the National League's first round starts Sept. 30.
Heading into Tuesday's games, the White Sox were the No. 1 seed in the AL and they'd host the Indians. The Cubs were the No. 2 seed in the NL and they'd host the Phillies.
If the Sox and Cubs get through the first round, they'll play the rest of their postseason games away from home.
The best-of-five ALDS will be split between Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego, which will also host the NLCS. The NLDS will be played in Texas, at Houston's Minute Maid Park and Arlington's Globe Life Field.
The ALCS and World Series will also be played at Globe Life Field, with Game 1 set for Oct. 20.
The White Sox are closing in on clinching their first playoff berth since 2008, but manager Rick Renteria had his mind focused on the Twins Tuesday.
"We're taking everything as it comes," Renteria said. "No preconceived notions about anything other than just continuing to be prepared and continuing to try to win as many ballgames as we possibly can. The only day we're worried about is today."
If they get out of the first round and move on to the neutral sites in California and Texas, the Sox and Cubs will both have to adjust to a much different playoff schedule.
Since travel will not be an issue beginning with the AL and NL Division Series, there will be no days off until the World Series begins.
That means the usual strategy of navigating the postseason with three or four starting pitchers likely needs to be altered. Most teams will probably have to go with their fourth and fifth starters.
"That's an interesting one, but it is what it is," Renteria said. "I guess we'll deal with it."
It's been a difficult season for major-league baseball due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the potential of playing the majority of the playoffs away from home with little rest presents a unique challenge.
Renteria, for one, understands the situation.
"We're so protected, and so catered to, that we probably don't have a whole lot to complain about, to be honest with you," the White Sox's manager said. "There's so much more going on with everybody all around us that we're probably just as fortunate as can be of anybody that's walking the face of the earth right now. I'm sure we'll continue to be able to deal with what we seemingly think are little inconveniences, but in reality they're very small compared to everything else that's going on right now."