Red Sox

McAdam: A look at the NL East opponents on the Red Sox’ schedule

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Interleague play isn't anything new. It's been a staple of the Major League Baseball schedule since 1997.

But never before has it played such an outsized role in a season -- until now.

In an effort to limit travel during the pandemic, MLB has implemented a 60-game schedule in which, for the first time ever, teams won't play a single intraleague opponent from outside their own division. So, no regular-season meetings with the Twins or Tigers or A's or Angels -- and others -- for the Red Sox.

However, teams will play the corresponding division from the other league. AL East teams will play NL East clubs, AL Central teams with square off with NL Central teams ... and so on.

It's unknown, for now, exactly how many interleague games will be played. But if it's only one three-game series with each of the five teams in the other league, that's still a total of 15 games, or a full quarter of the 60-game schedule. That's considerable.

To help get prepared, we're taking a look at the five National League East opponents that will pop up on Boston's 2020 schedule:

1. WASHINGTON NATIONALS

How good/bad are they? Very good. As in the best, given that they won the 2019 World Series. On the difficulty scale, 1-10, the Nationals rate a solid 9.

Strengths: Starting pitching. The Nationals' rotation boasts Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin -- as talented a Big Three as any team in the big leagues. A talented athletic outfield features two of games best 25-and-under stars: Juan Soto and Victor Robles. The back end of the bullpen is imposing with Sean Dolittle, Will Harris and Daniel Hudson.

Weaknesses: The infield offers some depth and flexibility, but is also aging: Eric Thames, Ryan Zimmerman, Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera are all 34 or older and that could be a bigger factor than usual in a quick-to-ramp-up season. Also, the Nationals lost third baseman Anthony Rendon, arguably their best overall player.

Player to watch: Soto

Overall: The starting pitching alone is enough to give teams nightmares. It's likely this is the second most-talented roster the Red Sox will face in 2020.

2. ATLANTA BRAVES

How good/bad are they?