A coronavirus outbreak has officially put the Miami Marlins‘ season on hold.
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it has postponed all of the Marlins’ games through Sunday, while reshuffling the schedules of four other teams — the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals — as a result.
What does this mean for the Marlins, who have now seen 17 members of their traveling party test positive for COVID-19, and for the rest of the 2020 MLB season? Our experts tackle the latest questions as the story develops.
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What does putting the Marlins’ season on pause mean?
The Marlins won’t play until Monday or Tuesday at the earliest — their next scheduled game after Sunday is Tuesday at home against the Phillies. In the meantime, their series against the Orioles for Wednesday and Thursday has been postponed (the Orioles will instead play the Yankees) and their weekend series at home against the Nationals also is postponed. Starting Monday, that would leave the Marlins with 57 games remaining in the season — with 56 days to play. Some of these games can be made up with doubleheaders, but the likely scenario is the Marlins won’t play their full slate of 60 games, nor will some of the other teams affected by the residual scheduling fallout (Phillies, Nationals, Yankees and Orioles). — David Schoenfield
Could this mean the Marlins’ season ends because of this?
For now, no, the plan is to give the Marlins the rest of the week to regroup and give the baseball operations department time to figure out the team’s roster, with the Marlins resuming play next week. The good news is that MLB has said that of 6,400 other tests since Friday, there have been no other positive results for on-field personnel other than the outbreak with the Marlins. Still, the number of positive tests on the Marlins is a reminder of how easily this virus can spread and why it’s important to follow safety protocol. — Schoenfield
Tim Kurkjian is worried about the Marlins’ ability to continue their season after four more players tested positive for COVID-19.
Is it possible they would play far fewer games than other teams this season?
Yes. The games against the Nationals might be a little easier to make up. They play the Nationals twice more this season and both teams have a scheduled off day on Sept. 17, before the start of the final series. So they could play that day and schedule two additional doubleheaders. The four games against the Orioles will be more difficult to fit into the existing schedule. — Schoenfield
What happens to their opponents during the time they’re unable to play?
The Yankees and Phillies were scheduled to play Wednesday and Thursday, but the Yankees will now play the Orioles. The Phillies will continue their regular schedule on Friday, when they host the Blue Jays (in what are technically Blue Jays home games). Confused? A new schedule update will be sent out later this week, but here is the slate of games that would need to be made up pending no further postponements:
Marlins-Orioles: 4 games
Marlins-Nationals: 3 games
Yankees-Phillies: 4 games
In addition, two future Orioles-Yankees games might presumably be replaced with Marlins-Orioles and Yankees-Phillies games, although it will be interesting to see how much additional travel MLB will want to assign and whether MLB wants to load up a team’s schedule with a bunch of doubleheaders. — Schoenfield
What would need to happen to resume the Marlins’ season?
As soon as a day goes by without a positive test, that’s the beginning of a return to the field for the Marlins. They’ve had at least one positive every day since Friday. Considering the incubation period, this could continue over the next few days. By the weekend, there’s a chance the team should know who is in the clear and who isn’t. — Jesse Rogers
If the Marlins play fewer games, what does that mean in the standings?
Playoff standings are based on winning percentage and if teams don’t play the same number of games, then they will be ranked accordingly. Baseball already has said that tiebreaker games will not be used this year, so you would expect that to extend to situations where a team finishes within a half-game of another club in the playoff standings as a result of cancellations. Thus we could have a team like the 1972 Red Sox (85-70), who finished a half-game back of the Tigers (86-70) for the AL East title because the season was shortened by an early-season strike and no games were made up. — Bradford Doolittle
From the Elias Sports Bureau: There has never been an American League or National League season in which one team played more than five fewer games than the rest of its counterparts. The last time this happened in any major league was the 1890 American Association, when Baltimore played just 38 games, Brooklyn played 100 games and the rest of the league played 125.
How many teams would it take this happening to for MLB to shut down the season completely?
It’s unclear, but what is clear is the league will adjust, maneuver, and basically do whatever it needs to in order to keep playing — at least with as many teams as possible. The revelation that some teams could play fewer than 60 games opens another avenue of flexibility not previously known. They’ll probably need it. — Rogers