Amid the hustle and bustle of a Monday afternoon, Major League Baseball saw fit to announce the preliminary 2015 schedule. It seems silly to start thinking about next year when the Mariners are in the midst of a postseason race this year. Still, it's never too soon to start thinking about the future and since Major League Baseball has put the schedule out there for all to see, we might as well start talking about it.
Next year, the games will start a week later than normal which means the season will end in October and, by extension, the Postseason could extend into November. The announcement from Major League Baseball includes a number of interesting anniversaries and rivalries but we don't really care that it will be the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth's postseason debut next year. What does next year's schedule look like for the Seattle Mariners?
Well, it's surprisingly balanced. You can find the full schedule here. There doesn't seem to be as many cross-country flights that previous schedules have included to our detriment. This year, the team will have traveled around 51,540 miles after all is said and done. My rough calculations have the Mariners traveling 43,043 miles in 2015, a 16% decrease from this year. That should be a nice change of pace for the team who bought a private jet to alleviate some of their travel woes this year.
For the first time since 2008, the Mariners will open at home with a three-game series against the Angels. As usual, the schedule makers have seen fit to front and back load division opponents. In April, six (Angels, Athletics, Rangers x2, and Astros x2) of the Mariners' eight opponents are from the AL West with the Dodgers and the Twins filling out the other two. To end the season, the Mariners will face the Athletics at home with the last game of the season falling on October 3. Other September opponents include the usual suspects, the Astros, Angels, and Rangers, as well as the Rockies, and the Royals.
In 2015, the Mariners' interleague opponents will be from the NL West. Our favorite interdivision rival, the Padres, can be seen in two separate two-game series, one in May and the other at the end of June. The Mariners will take on the Giants in a four game home-and-home series in May and they'll face the Rockies twice, in two three-game series, one in August and the other in September. Prepare for pot jokes galore.
The Mariners' scheduled off days are spread out pretty evenly across the season. There are three per month with the only outlier being July with the All-Star break (the three off days all surround the All-Star Game per usual and there are no others in the month). Between May 19 and June 7, the Mariners will play twenty consecutive games, including nine away games and eleven home games as well as the two of the longest flights of the year, Seattle to Baltimore and Tampa Bay to Seattle. After a scheduled off day, they start another long stretch with sixteen more in a row. There's another long streak of uninterrupted play immediately following the All-Star break, twenty more games between July 17 and August 5.
I won't try and build a strength of schedule estimate just yet. Due to the increased parity in baseball, it's a fool's errand to try and project which teams will be good and which ones won't be based on this year's win percentage. However, it does seem like the games surrounding the All-Star game will be a particularly tough stretch -- starting July 2 the Mariners are away against the Athletics, then home against the Tigers and Angels, a respite in the All-Star Break, and then away against the Yankees and Tigers.
What do you think? Are you excited to see the Mariners play in Coors Field? Have the schedule makers smiled upon us or have they cursed us with both tough opponents and a huge travel itinerary? Sound off in the comments.