The 2020 MLB season began on Thursday, and a significant change took hold at the last minute. The MLB and MLB Players Association agreed to expand the playoffs from 10 to 16 teams this year. Once the 60-game regular season ends on Sept. 27, the playoffs will start on Sept. 29.
"Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) jointly announced today that the 2020 Postseason will expand to 16 teams, beginning with eight best-of-three Wild Card Series preceding the Division Series," The MLB and MLB Player's Association said in a joint statement. ESPN and TBS will exclusively televise all of the new postseason games. Major League Clubs unanimously approved the expansion of the Postseason via conference call this afternoon, and the Major League Players also have approved the new system."
Originally, when the league and players agreed to start the season, the plan was to keep the postseason the way it has been. However, the players will get a $50 million postseason bonus pool instead of a $25 million pool, which was talked about earlier in the year.
"We are excited to announce the expansion of the 2020 Postseason," commissioner Rob Manfred said in the statement. Manfred also said the 2020 postseason "will allow more fans to experience playoff baseball. We look forward to a memorable Postseason concluding a year like no other and appreciate the continued partnership and enthusiasm of ESPN and TBS."
How does the 16-team postseason work? There will be three divisional winners from each league and they will automatically clinch a playoff spot. However, the second-place team from each division will also earn a bid, and the seventh and eight teams in each league will be chosen from the best records remaining. In the expanded postseason, the wild-card round will feature best-of-three series instead of a one-game playoff. And to cut down on the travel, the higher seeded team will host all three games.
The teams that win will then advance to a best-of-five series, then the League Champion Series, which will then be followed by the World Series. Both the LCS and World Series will be best-best-of-seven series. By that time, it's possible fans could be allowed to attend games depending on the number of COVID-19 cases across the country.