PORTLAND, MAINE – If the New Hampshire Fisher Cats seek to repeat as Eastern League champions, they’ll have to take a different route in 2019.
On Thursday, the Eastern League announced that it is joining the other two Double-A Leagues and instituting a split-season format.
Under the new format, the first-place team from each division during the first and second halves of the season will qualify for the postseason. In the event that the same team ends both halves of the season with a first-place divisional finish, the other playoff spot will go the team with the best full-season record outside of the half-season leaders.
The first half of the season will end on the 76th day of the regular season (June 18), with the second half beginning one day later.
First-half winners will host the final three games each of the league’s best-of-five semifinal series. The Eastern League Championship Series will still hold the same scheduling format as in previous years, with the series beginning in the Western Division winner’s stadium in even-numbered years and in the Eastern Division winner’s stadium in odd-number years.
The Eastern League will open its 2019 season on Thursday, April 4 with games including all 12 teams. New Hampshire will host the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on that night, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m.