The Seattle Mariners and MLB released the 2023 schedule today, which is for the first time fully balanced to allow every team in both leagues to play one another for at least one series throughout the season.
The details of the new schedule balance are the most significant change in a full season since the introduction of interleague play in 1997. The key details are listed below:
- Interleague games are up for all clubs to 46 from just 20 between 2013-2022 and 15-18 from 1997-2012. Clubs will play two two-game series’ against their natural rivals as well as seven home series’ hosting interleague opponents and seven on the road. Continuing from recent precedent, interleague play will be interspersed throughout the season.
- Divisional games are down significantly to 52, cut from the 76 teams have played in recent years. That still means a healthy 13 games per opponent, down from 19 in previous seasons. As there’s still an odd number of divisional games per opponent, two series’ will be be 7-6 home-away and the other two will be vice-versa for every club.
- Intraleague non-divisional games are down slightly, to 64 from a previous 66. Four teams will be played seven times and six teams will be played six times.
For Seattle, that means...
- Four games (two home, two road) with the San Diego Padres, continuing the Vedder Cup.
- Home series’ hosting the Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates, Marlins, Nationals, and Dodgers
- Road trips to the Cubs, Phillies, Braves, Giants, Diamondbacks, Mets, and Reds.
- Facing the Guardians, Twins, Royals, and Rays seven times, and the rest of the non-AL West American League teams six times.
In terms of the actual breakdown of the schedule, a few notable characteristics stand out to me:
- Seattle opens at home against Cleveland, part of a seven-game homestand wherein they also host the Angels. They also get their typical April trip to the midwest, this time facing Cleveland on the road in early April as well as trekking to Wrigley Field for the first time since 2016.
- As to be expected with the newly, more balanced schedule, Seattle faces a swath of National League opponents in sequence. They take on the Cubs, Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals, and Phillies in back to back sets (with three off days interspersed) that consume the majority of April.
- The longest stretches of the season with no off-days are a handful of 13-game stretches, the first of which comes in late May. They open the second half with one as well, albeit predominantly at home following their hosting of the All-Star Game, and then face another one in mid-August and early-September respectively.
- It’s difficult to project teams forward too much given how much can shift in an off-season, but it does not appear Seattle will be afforded the same pillowy final month or so of the season as they are shaping up against this year. September 2023 will begin against the presumably competitive Mets, perhaps offering a brief reprieve on the road against the Reds, before four at the often-pesky Rays, and then a homestand hosting both L.A. clubs. They’ll travel to Oakland who figures to be moribund, and then take an off-day before their final regular season road game at Texas, then return home to close the season with Houston and Texas.
- Starting and finishing the season at home is pretty neat!