Astros: Breaking down the 2021 regular season schedule

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 04: The new Michelob Ultra Club in right field during day 2 of Summer Workouts at Minute Maid Park on July 04, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 04: The new Michelob Ultra Club in right field during day 2 of Summer Workouts at Minute Maid Park on July 04, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

We take a closer look at the Houston Astros 2021 regular season schedule.

Depending on how things go with the COVID-19 pandemic, Houston Astros fans might not get to visit the new fan zone in the upper deck in right field at Minute Maid Park until 2021. However, thanks to a rather odd decision by Major League Baseball, fans do know exactly when the park will (hopefully) open next year.

In an unexpected move, MLB released the 2021 regular season schedule on Thursday, just on the heels of releasing the adjusted 2020 schedule. Whether this full 162-game schedule for next year remains intact will depend on the pandemic and whether any needed preparations are made to play. Given how rough this year has been, though, let’s just assume we’ll have a normal season. We can dream, right?

Breakdown, It’s Alright

The Astros will open the 2021 season on April 1 in Oakland with a four-game series against the division rival A’s. They’ll play two games in Anaheim against the Angels before coming back to Houston for their home opener on April 8 against, once again, the A’s.

Their first homestand will consist of three against Oakland and three against the Tigers, with a highly unusual day off on a Sunday in between. The Astros will play their first interleague matchup against the Rockies at Coors Field on April 20-21 — so, yes, they’ll face the NL West again.

They’ll make a trip to Yankee Stadium for three games in early May, and they face the Rangers for the first time on May 13 at Minute Maid Park. They’ll also head to Globe Life Field for three games the following weekend, and they’ll host the Dodgers for two games on May 25-26. They also host the Padres and Red Sox on that homestand.

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The Astros travel to Fenway Park in early June, and they’ll close out the month with 10 consecutive games facing either the Orioles or Tigers, two teams who’ll likely still be deep in rebuilding mode. The Yankees come to Minute Maid Park in the final series before the All-Star break, July 9-11.

The Giants come to Houston for three games at the end of July, followed by the Dodgers for two games. The Astros will also host the Rockies for two games in August, and they’ll travel to San Diego for three games in early September. The Diamondbacks will come to Houston in mid-September to complete the interleague slate.

Down the stretch, 20 of their final 26 games will come against AL West opponents. They’ll close September with a three-game home series against the Rays and then finish the regular season against (who else?) the A’s on Oct. 3.

The Expected and the Unexpected

That day off on Sunday, April 11 is quite odd. Teams’ off days are almost always on a Monday or Thursday, and that’s the case for all of the team’s remaining off days on the schedule (with the exception of the All-Star break). Not sure if that was an oversight or if there’s a particular reason for the team not playing on that Sunday.

Regardless, the rest of the schedule is pretty standard fare. The Astros have the typical 19 games against each of their AL West opponents, and they’ll face the NL West in interleague play, just as they’re doing in this shortened season. They get to face the Dodgers two seasons in a row, and next year could be in front of fans. That ought to be interesting.

I find it somewhat disappointing that they’re forced to begin and end the season playing the A’s, though I see the possible intrigue. Oakland is probably their top divisional threat, though I’d rather see them take on the Rangers in one of those slots. The A’s are good, but I just can’t get excited about playing against them.

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What will be exciting, though, is the possibility of there actually being a full season next year. We don’t know if it’ll come to fruition or not, but if MLB can pull off this 60-game slate in 2020, the chances of completing a full 2021 season will drastically improve. Here’s hoping what happens in 2020 stays in 2020.