CHICAGO -- Happy Opening Day, folks.
The Twins begin their 60-game sprint tonight against the White Sox in what feels like a big spot for both.
The Twins enter the season with heightened expectations after improving a roster that won 101 games and the AL Central last season. The lineup has the potential to be special after producing a MLB record for home runs and a franchise-record for runs scored in 2019.
The White Sox generated a lot of buzz with their offseason moves to bolster a nucleus of young talent, highlighted by heralded rookie centerfielder Luis Robert, who signed a $50 million contract in January before he made his MLB debut.
The headline in the Chicago Tribune today is a quote from tonight's starter Lucas Giolito: "Our talent's through the roof."
This should be a fun series to kick things off.
A 60-game magnifies every game, but MLB eased the intensity Thursday by expanding the playoff field from 10 teams to 16 for this season. Things would have to fall completely apart for the Twins not to make the postseason under this new format -- the top two teams in each division qualify, plus two teams with the best records after that.
I'm guessing players won't admit that this change affects their mental approach, but a three-game sweep or a bad week won't have the same impact knowing teams have more margin for error now. The day-to-day pressure won't be the same.
I like this format change because it gives teams that get off to a bad start or encounter a rough stretch some cushion. It feels like a fair compromise that acknowledges the uniqueness of this condensed season.