As things stand, the 2022 season will be shortened. What remains to be seen is for how long. Commissioner Rob Manfred so far has cancelled the first two series of the year, and two more were nixed after business closed on Wednesday afternoon. Losing the entire month of April is far from out of the question, given the tensions of the negotiations.
While we would all prefer a full 162-game season, if cancellations are going to be a fact of life, their effect on competitive parity should be considered. If many early season games are lost, will it make the Yankees’ slate of games easier or harder? And would the same be true for their AL East competitors, when the difference between a division title and a Wild Card slot could be one game?
The Yankees were to begin the 2022 season in Texas, with series against the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros. The Rangers finished the 2021 season in last place in the AL West with 102 losses, but made massive improvements before the lockout by signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Missing opportunities to watch those two will be disappointing, but that is a series the Yankees would be expected to win.
The Astros are another story, with each recent matchup between these teams turning into must-see TV as their animosity spills into plain view and the games get dissected as a potential playoff preview. Missing one of the top teams in the league will not hurt the Yankees, record-wise, as things stand now.
Given the cancellations announced today, the Yankees will also miss out on home series with the Red Sox and Blue Jays, two of the teams expected to be battling hard for the division. However, the rest of the month could be easier, with two three-game sets against the Orioles and series against the Tigers, Guardians, and Royals coming. If those games get cut, the Yankees might lose out on chances to pad their win total. The Yankees don’t have any games against the Rays scheduled in April.
Boston’s first cancelled games were against the Rays and the Orioles, so one of their toughest opponents and one of the least. They then lost the aforementioned matchup with the Yankees, as well as a few games in Detroit. Their April schedule overall looks tougher than New York’s, with another series against the Rays, and seven games against the Blue Jays. Having those games erased could be a benefit to them.
The Rays have already lost games against the Red Sox and Blue Jays, and today, they lost their first homestand, which included six against the Orioles and Athletics. The rest of their April schedule is a mixed bag, with cushy showdowns versus Cubs and Twins teams that are not presently expected to be in the playoff hunt, but also six games against the Red Sox and White Sox.
Finally, (since the Orioles of course remain the division’s sad little brother) the Blue Jays’ cancelled opening series were against Baltimore and the Rays. The March 9th cancellations nixed a four-game set against the competitive Yankees, though also three against the so-so- Rangers. Their April looks like the toughest of the four teams — they play seven games against the Red Sox and five against the Astros. The A’s might be the only truly weak team they’re scheduled to go up against.
The unbalanced schedules that MLB teams face is one of the many factors that makes simply erasing games from the calendar so perplexing. If more games keep getting cancelled into April, the Yankees would miss out on games against opponents they’d be expected to beat. The Blue Jays in particular would see a tough part of their schedule totally erased. As the playoffs near and the division gets decided, the removed games could very well become a talking point.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published to only reflect the first two cancelled series of the 2022 season, but with Wednesday afternoon’s announcement of further cancellations, it has been updated.