A Cubs fan guide to the 2021 MLB season
It’s been an interesting winter in the baseball world, filled with many scenarios and questions to be answered.
That’s the reality of trying to play a full season in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. But over the last couple weeks, we received a lot of answers about how Major League Baseball will look in 2021.
The league and the Players Association reached an agreement earlier this month on terms for the season.
Here’s what we know right now and how it affects the Cubs:
- Spring training officially started this week., with Cubs pitchers and catchers reporting on Wednesday to the complex in Mesa, Ariz. The first full squad workout will be on Monday, Feb. 22.
- This spring training will be unlike any you’ve experienced before as a fan. The first few weeks (Feb. 27-March 13), managers can agree to play shortened games that last either 5 or 7 innings. From March 14 to the end of spring training, games can be shortened to 7 innings if both managers agree. The two managers can also agree to end innings before three outs have been recorded and pitchers are allowed to re-enter the game in spring training.
- The regular season will be a full 162-game schedule with Opening Day slated for April 1. The Cubs will begin their season with a home series against the Pirates on Thursday, April 1 then will be off on April 2 before resuming the series over the weekend. They will welcome the Brewers to town after that before embarking on a road trip to Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.
- In the regular season, 7-inning doubleheaders will remain whenever necessary.
- The extra-inning rule will also remain where a runner is placed on second base to start the 10th inning and all subsequent frames in regular season affairs.
- There will not be a universal DH for 2021.
- The roster size will go back to 26, which was the original plan for 2020. It will expand to 28 in September. There is no limit on the number of pitchers on the active roster, so teams can carry more than 13 arms if they see fit. Teams began 2020 with 30-man rosters, which were bumped down to 28 after a couple weeks. So manager David Ross will have 2 fewer roster spots at his disposal in 2021.
- Teams can also carry up to five taxi squad players on road trips throughout the season. At least one of those players must be a catcher. Just like last season, taxi squad players are able to practice and work out with the active roster, but will not be in uniform or in the dugout during games.
- Players will wear Kinexon wristbands at team facilities to allow for contact-tracing in the event of somebody testing positive for COVID-19. The NBA and NFL used similar technology throughout their seasons.
- The league is altering the baseballs for the 2021 season. It will be a slight adjustment, with the ball traveling a foot or two shorter than normal. This comes after the record home run boom in 2019 that fell off only slightly in 2020. For more information on the new baseballs, head to MLB.com.
As for the broadcast schedule in spring training, Marquee Sports Network will air all 13 Cactus League home games, beginning March 2 against Kansas City.
In addition, Marquee Sports Network also announced its 2021 regular season broadcast schedule, which can be found in its entirety here.
It was also announced that Pat Hughes, Chris Myers and Beth Mowins will serve as pinch-hit play-by-play broadcasters for select games in 2021 in place of Jon “Boog” Sciambi.
The 2021 season opener will be broadcast on Marquee Sports Network on Thursday, April 1.