As we approach the new year, more and more clamor has emerged about owners wanting the 2021 season to be pushed back so that all players can get the COVID-19 vaccine before spring training. That would mean the season will potentially start as late as Memorial Day. It also could mean another year with a shortened schedule. Although this one would probably be somewhere around 130-150 games rather than the 60-game schedule team’s completed in 2020.
As a baseball fan, the last thing I want is for the season to be pushed back. Hell, I wish the guys were out there playing right now in snow flurries. However, the owners will do whatever is best for the player’s safety (or their pockets), meaning a season beginning in May is most certainly in the cards. However, while most fans are against waiting (haven’t we done enough of that in 2020), it could benefit the Braves.
Primarily, giving teams an extra month or so off will allow injured players to rest up a bit more before testing things out. The Braves have a few players that could use that time to heal — most importantly — Mike Soroka, who suffered a torn Achilles last August. Now, Soroka looks to be making progress faster than most anyone expected, and the latest reports are that he’s attempting to be ready for Opening Day. I’m not doubting him, but I think I speak for the entire Braves organization when I say it would be nice to avoid rushing him. The extra month off gives him a much better chance of being ready for the first series of the season.
Thankfully, the Braves don’t have many other injuries outside of Soroka. Jeremy Walker and Phil Pfeifer are both on the Injured List but are probable for the start of the season. Still, having a rotation at full strength for the first time since 2019 would seem like a Utopia for Brian Snitker after what happened with Atlanta’s starting pitching last season.
Another aspect to consider is the lack of off days. I don’t imagine there will be too significant of a discrepancy, but there will be fewer off days if the season is pushed back, especially if they don’t want to shorten the schedule from 162 games. This should also play in the Braves favor, given their incredible pitching depth. After the signings of Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly, Brian Snitker has 8-10 guys he could rely on to start on any given night. Very few organizations have that luxury, giving the Braves an upper hand if there are indeed fewer days off.
So, while nobody really wants the season to be pushed back, at least the Braves could benefit in a couple of aspects. Mike Soroka should be ready to go by the end of May, and an extremely deep starting pitching staff will have no problem navigating a schedule with fewer off days, putting the Braves in a fantastic position to capture their fourth straight NL East title.