Along with baseball only having 60 games this season, there will be several different rule tweaks that will significantly impact how games are played. Most notably, there will be a DH in the National League for the first time — a substantial advantage for the Braves, who are built like an American League team with a very deep bench. But while that might be the most eye-popping change, it’s far from the only one.
Major League Baseball will begin extra innings with a runner on second base in an attempt to shorten extra-inning games, something that’s been successful when tested at different levels. However, this will only take place in the regular season, not the playoffs. Baseball will also approach weather delays differently. Any game that does not make it to five innings — when it becomes official — will be picked up from the point that it left off rather than starting a new one from scratch.
The roster situation will also be much different. For starters, teams will begin the season with 30 players, which will be reduced to 28 players after two weeks, then to the standard 26 players two weeks after that. This will be a significant advantage early on for teams with a lot of depth like the Braves.
On top of that, each team will put together a 60-man taxi squad (their 40-man roster, plus twenty minor leaguers). Organizations will still have to operate under the typical rules of the 40-man roster. Therefore, a player off the 40-man can only join the major league club if a player on the 40-man is DFA’d, put on the 60-day IL, or placed on a select COVID-19 list due to a positive test.
There are many aspects teams will have to keep in mind that they wouldn’t usually have to, given the circumstances. However, one thing is pretty apparent: depth will reign supreme.
The Braves are fortunate to have a loaded roster at the major league level as well as a farm system filled with players that could make an impact in Atlanta starting tomorrow. It might not be how they envisioned these young stars making their major league debuts, but if the situation gets rocky — whether it be from injuries, COVID-19, or something else — the Braves are well prepared.