Baseball Expands Playoff Format

Sixteen teams to make post-season; ESPN to exclusively televise first-round NL games

Major League Baseball Thursday threw a post-season fastball prior to the first pitch of its truncated 2020 season, announcing that it is expanding the league’s playoff teams to 16 from eight.

The league, which Thursday launched its 60-game regular season three months after its scheduled start due to the coronavirus pandemic, will expand its playoff teams to include the champions and the second place finishers in each of the six divisions, as well as two wild card teams and two teams with the best record among the rest of the league, according to MLB officials.

League owners and the Major League Players Association hammered out the deal prior to the New York Yankees-Washington Nationals opening day game.

“This season will be a sprint to a new format that will allow more fans to experience playoff baseball,” said baseball commissioner Robert Manfred in a statement. 

In addition ESPN announced it will televise seven of the eight new first round series — including exclusively all four National League first round series — across a four-day period from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2.

“This is an exciting opportunity for ESPN and Major League Baseball to deliver a new, compelling live sports experience to fans. Innovation has been a cornerstone of our 30-plus year relationship with MLB, and that will be on display as we showcase these decisive games,” said Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks in a statement. “We know fans have been craving live baseball and we’re proud to work with our friends at MLB to offer what will be a special four days this fall.”