MLB unveils balanced schedule for 2023: One highlight for each of the 30 teams

MLB unveils balanced schedule for 2023: One highlight for each of the 30 teams

Major League Baseball is going old school. For the first time since the advent of interleague play in 1997, the league is playing a balanced schedule in 2023, the details of which were announced Wednesday. Gone are the days of stacked divisional matchups. Instead, all 30 teams will meet for at least one series. The Athletic’s baseball writers identified one schedule highlight from each team. Opening Day is March 30.

A’s fans could give ex-skipper proper goodbye

A’s fans never got a chance to say a proper goodbye to Bob Melvin, who saw exactly what was about to happen (a huge fire sale) and got out of the final year of his contract with the A’s and signed a three-year contract with San Diego less than a month after the 2021 season concluded. Matt Chapman has already returned to Oakland as a Blue Jay, and the Braves (Matt Olson) and Mets (Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha and Starling Marte) will visit the Coliseum next month. But the A’s won’t host the Padres in 2022, so the 2023 series that might draw the most attention for nostalgic A’s fans could start on Sept. 15, 2023, when the Padres come to The Town. Managers rarely get a warm send-off — they usually get the ax during or after a season — but Melvin deserves one after managing the A’s to six postseason appearances in 11 years. — Steve Berman

Angels open at Coliseum, again

The Angels have an inexplicable schedule quirk. For the sixth time in seven seasons, they are scheduled to open the season in Oakland. There’s no reason for it, supposedly, at least according to the Angels. It’s just what it is. For whatever reason, the Angels are banished to a Coliseum Opening Day for what feels like eternity. Not even the new schedule format could change it. On the bright side, they do stay in SoCal from June 25 to July 25. — Sam Blum

Astros in line for clash with Dodgers

If there’s one road trip to circle in red, it’s the Astros’ three-city swing to face the Dodgers, Cardinals and Rangers from June 23 through July 3, which comes on the heels of a Houston homestead hosting the Nationals (for the first time since the 2019 World Series), Reds (for the first time since 2016) and Mets. The Astros and Dodgers are the class of their respective leagues. Houston hasn’t played a three-game series at Dodger Stadium — the site of Game 7 of the 2017 World Series — since August 2018. The Astros won’t expect a warm welcome in Chavez Ravine. They then will head to Busch Stadium, a common destination during their NL Central days, before concluding the trip in Arlington. — Stephen J. Nesbitt

Braves could have a friendly stretch run

A few things worth noting about the Braves’ 2023 schedule: They don’t travel beyond the Central time zone in the last four weeks of the season and play 15 of their final 25 games at Truist Park, including a favorable season-ending homestand against the Cubs and Nationals. They face the Nationals seven times in the final 10 games of the season. They’ll be done with San Diego before Fernando Tatis Jr. returns from his PED suspension, since they face the Padres at home April 6-8 and on the road April 17-19. And after finishing second in MLB attendance in 2021 and ranking fourth in 2022, the Braves should do well again in 2023, especially with attractive interleague home series against the Yankees, Red Sox, Astros, Angels and White Sox, among others. — David O’Brien

Blue Jays get less of treacherous AL East

A balanced schedule is a blessing for AL East teams, including the Blue Jays. Six fewer games against each club in what is proving to be the toughest division in baseball and more against weaker teams throughout the majors should be a benefit. But, it certainly feels strange for the Blue Jays to open the season in St. Louis, on a 10-game, 11-day road trip involving no division opponents. That’ll be an adjustment. As for the long road trip to start even though Toronto possesses a stadium roof, well, that’s likely to give the Blue Jays some cushion to complete the first phase of Rogers Centre renovations. — Kaitlyn McGrath

Brewers to welcome back Josh Hader, eventually

Another year, another opening series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field for the Brewers. Milwaukee will open at Wrigley Field in 2023 for the second consecutive season and for the third time in four years. If that sounds tired, there’s at least this: With increased interleague play, there are a few novel matchups for the Brewers, including both the Angels (April 28-30) and A’s (June 9-11), with each coming to Milwaukee for the first time since 2016. And for something old and new: It’s a long wait for those looking to see Josh Hader’s return to Milwaukee in a Padres uniform. San Diego doesn’t visit the Brewers until Aug. 25-27. — Will Sammon

London Stadium in baseball configuration. (Justin Setterfield / Getty Images)

Cardinals play host in London

The Cardinals will be London bound in 2023, where they’ll “host” the Cubs in a two-game series at London Stadium from June 24-25, as part of the new MLB World Tour. The two teams were originally scheduled to play in London during the 2020 season, but that series was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be the first MLB series to take place in London since the Red Sox and Yankees squared off in a two-game series in 2019. — Katie Woo

Cubs meet rivals across the pond

Until the COVID-19 pandemic changed these plans, the Cubs were supposed to put on a show in London in 2020 with a star-studded cast that included Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Kyle Schwarber, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and Craig Kimbrel. There’s no doubt that it will be a dramatically different team that faces the Cardinals next summer at London Stadium (June 24-25). But will the Cubs be better than the post-trade-deadline group that walked through an Iowa cornfield for the Field of Dreams game? Either way, Cubs fans always love to travel for road games, making this a unique event to circle on their calendars. — Patrick Mooney

Diamondbacks get some reprieve from NL West

For a team like the Diamondbacks hoping to take a step forward next year, fewer games a season against the Dodgers, Padres and Giants is only a good thing. However, if the Diamondbacks do manage to enter September in the hunt for a playoff spot, the season’s final month will offer few chances to press their advantage against division foes. Arizona has only five games against NL West teams in the month, and it’s not as if the remaining competition is full of pushovers. Series against the Mets, Yankees, White Sox and Astros will force the Diamondbacks to prove they’re playoff-worthy. — Zach Buchanan

Dodgers will get World Series rematch

For the first time since the Dodgers made the formative move to acquire Mookie Betts, they’re going to visit Fenway Park. For the Dodgers, it’ll be a chance to look back at the move that helped the franchise finally break through for its first title in 32 years, and for the Red Sox it’ll be a chance to look back at Mookie Betts’ tenure in Boston and the ramifications of the deal in the years since. Of course, the trip will have other storylines, too — a rematch of the 2018 World Series, a reunion of former Dodgers teammates in managers Alex Cora and Dave Roberts, as well as a chance for the Red Sox to show Roberts’ steal during the 2004 ALCS on a loop for old times’ sake. — Fabian Ardaya

Giants return to ancestral home for Opening Day

If there’s a downside to the schedule, it’s fewer Giants-Dodgers games, which are one of baseball’s greatest gifts. But it’s hard not to get excited about Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Prepare to see the replay of Barry Bonds’ home run that Jon Miller describes as “heading toward New Jersey.” Prepared to enjoy it just as much as the first 100 times. — Grant Brisbee

Guardians visit Francisco Lindor in Flushing

Playing both the season opener in Seattle and the home opener a week later against Seattle is an odd quirk. But the series that stands out the most, thanks to the new balanced schedule? A mid-May trip to Queens, where the Guardians will face their former shortstop Francisco Lindor for the first time. That, of course, also means that burgeoning star Andrés Giménez and, assuming he’s still the club’s shortstop, Amed Rosario will visit their old stomping grounds. — Zack Meisel

Mariners will experience bricks and ivy

Selfishly, there’s an off-day before and after a two-game series in San Diego in July I’m very interested in. But let’s go with a three-game set at Wrigley Field on April 10-12. Hard to top Wrigley. Did I ever tell you about the time I convinced my super-pregnant wife to see Pearl Jam there in 2013 — with a two-hour lightning delay? Yes, somehow we’re still together! — Corey Brock

Marlins in store for brutal stretch run

My favorite feature of the Marlins schedule is the Fourth of July fireworks in Miami celebrating American independence and thanking the Cardinals in person for Sandy Alcántara. However, the defining stretch of the season — the true test of the 2023 Marlins — is their late-season gauntlet. From Aug. 11 on, Miami will face only two teams not currently in playoff contention: Pittsburgh and Washington. Meanwhile, the Marlins will host the Yankees, Astros, Rays, Dodgers, Braves, Mets and Brewers; and play the Dodgers, Padres, Phillies, Brewers and Mets on the road. That’s a brutal stretch run for the Fish. — Stephen J. Nesbitt

Mets face harrowing opening month

How’s this for a start to the season? The Mets will open with eight straight games, including seven on the road, with four in Miami and three in Milwaukee. The rest of April isn’t exactly easy, either. For the Mets, increased interleague play means a longer west coast road trip: sandwiched between two off days are three games in Oakland, three at Dodger Stadium and four in San Francisco. Oh, and then the month of April ends with a series against Atlanta, which the Mets don’t play at all in September 2023. Hey, at least the Mets get the Padres in April — before Fernando Tatis Jr. is eligible to play. Beyond an interesting April, highlights on the Mets schedule include novel trips to Detroit (May 2-4) and Kansas City (Aug. 1-3). If he’s still with the Angels, Shohei Ohtani comes to Citi Field on Aug. 25-27. — Will Sammon

Nationals head to Williamsport

There will be travel. By the end of June, the Nationals will have completed four trips to the West Coast. Though the schedule will not feature the Yankees, or home games on Labor Day or Memorial Day, it will include the annual July 4 matinee, this time against the Reds. One of the season’s highlights comes on Aug. 20 with a Little League Classic matchup against the Phillies in Williamsport, Pa. — Marc Carig

Orioles will benefit from less of the AL East

The most interesting thing about the Orioles’ 2023 schedule is what is not in there: 24 extra games against AL East rivals. The Orioles are finally competitive this year, but they are at a disadvantage in the AL wild-card race because they have 76 games — 19 each — against the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox. Next year, that will be reduced to 52 games total, or 13 apiece, a welcomed respite for a club that often finds itself at the bottom of the brutal East. — Dan Connolly

The Padres’ Ryan Weathers at Mexico City’s Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú in 2019. (Mauricio Salas / Jam Media)

Padres make long-awaited trip to Mexico City

The Padres and Giants are expected to meet in the first major league regular-season games in Mexico City. No dates have been announced, but the two teams’ April 29-30 matchup would make sense. The games will be played at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú, named after the Padres part-owner who built the ballpark. (Padres prospects helped open the stadium in 2019, playing an exhibition against Helú’s Mexico City Red Devils.) A San Diego-Arizona series in Mexico City scheduled for April 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. — Dennis Lin

Pirates headed to Pacific Northwest

The Pirates will play the Mariners in late May 2023, their first trip to Seattle in seven years. Fourteen Pirates who played in that two-game set in 2016 — including Tony Watson, Jung Ho Kang, Sean Rodriguez, John Jaso, David Freese, Jordy Mercer and Jared Hughes — are now retired. The Pirates have begun their season against American League teams before, but 2023 will be the first time they’ll play the White Sox in the home opener. — Rob Biertempfel

Phillies could face a grueling September

Sure, it’s odd the Phillies play more games against American League teams than National League ones in April, or that they have a scheduled doubleheader (!) against San Diego. But the most notable thing about the Phillies’ schedule is September. On paper, it looks like a challenge. Much will change between now and then, but the Phillies must make trips to Milwaukee, San Diego, St. Louis, Atlanta and New York in the final month. That will be a test. One more twist: The Phillies have scheduled only 10 of their 81 home games (all Fridays) to begin at the standard 7:05 p.m. They are moving to 6:40 p.m. start times for all midweek night games. A welcomed change. — Matt Gelb

Rangers will still rack up travel mileage

One weird hitch: the Rangers only have eight home games in May, and they’re all against National League teams. At least the balanced schedule means fewer West Coast start times, right? Nope. Thanks to trips to San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona, they’ll have 28 (same as 2022). — Levi Weaver

Rays will host some of NL’s best

The Rays should benefit from getting a less steady dose of the AL East. However, their draw of National League teams headed to St. Pete next season is no picnic. Eight NL teams will visit the Trop, though five of them should bring a formidable team: the Brewers, Dodgers, Phillies, Braves and Cardinals. The Rays’ 25th Opening Day features a matchup with the Tigers, the same team the Rays faced in their inaugural game. — Marc Carig

Reds host impromptu old-timers’ day

It’s certainly not going to be novel to see Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker or Luis Castillo at Great American Ball Park, but it will be strange to see them in the dugout on the third base side. Suárez and Winker combined for 657 games, 2,544 plate appearances and 135 home runs at GABP, while Castillo started 70 games, won 25 and struck out 481 at the Reds’ stadium. Suárez and Winker were traded to the Mariners before the season and Castillo during the season. Those three players were extremely popular in Cincinnati and their departures were extremely unpopular. But the return in those trades is part of the future the Reds are banking on to return playoff baseball to Cincinnati. The Reds’ farm system was recently rated fifth-best in baseball by Baseball America and fourth-best by MLB Pipeline, with the eight players received from the two deals with the Mariners making up a nice chunk of the reason why the team’s system was so highly regarded. Those three games from Sept. 4-6 could be something like an old-timers game, with former Reds starts facing off against future Reds stars. — C. Trent Rosecrans

Mookie Betts at Fenway Park. (Billie Weiss / Boston Red Sox / Getty Images)

Red Sox welcome back Mookie Betts

The most interesting series for the Red Sox next season has to be when the Dodgers visit Fenway on Aug. 25-27. The Dodgers haven’t played the Red Sox since the Mookie Betts trade in February 2020 and it’ll be Betts’ first time back in Boston since the blockbuster. Needless to say, it’s going to be a highly anticipated series. — Jen McCaffrey

Rockies get six fewer games against powerhouse

The highlight of the Rockies’ slate is not one series but two — the six fewer games they have to play against the Dodgers next season. They play 13 games, down from 19. Actually, the Rockies are guaranteed to play at least six teams worse than them next season, give or take. The rest of the schedule is odd. A home-opener against the Nationals (um?). A season finale against the Twins (um?). And a “natural rivalry” home-and-home against the Astros (uh?). Dick Monfort should send Rob Manfred a thank you note for that Yankees series at Coors Field in July. — Nick Groke

Royals to be tested early

For the first time in 100 years, the Royals will not begin a season against the White Sox. Jokes aside, Kansas City’s season will start at home against the Twins, beginning what will be an interesting month. The Royals have two West Coast road trips in the first month, to San Francisco, Anaheim and Arizona. Given the Royals’ early-season issues in recent years, emerging from April in good shape, even amid the schedule, will be essential. — Alec Lewis

Tigers face early challenges

I’m so curious to see how this will impact the AL Central, the weakest division in baseball this year. The TIgers’ first month, for example, is daunting. They open against Tampa Bay and Houston and could play as many as six 2022 postseason contenders (Rays, Astros, Blue Jays, Guardians, Orioles, Brewers), plus the Red Sox and Giants, before the end of April. — Cody Stavenhagen

Twins second half has NL feel

The home opener against the Astros should have an interesting vibe whether Carlos Correa opts into or out of his contract with the Twins. In most seasons, divisional opponents dominate the final month of the schedule, but next year the Twins will play their final AL Central opponent on Sept. 17, spending the final two weeks playing two AL West teams (Angels, Athletics) and two NL teams (Reds, Rockies). In all, the Twins play more second-half games versus NL (26) than AL Central teams (22), which will be a shock to fans’ systems. — Aaron Gleeman

White Sox can’t blame the cold

If you’re good or completely fraudulent, that will reveal itself in due time in Major League Baseball. For example, the White Sox cited cold weather for the homer shortage early in the season. Next season, the bulk of their April road trips will be in warm weather cities and/or domes, and thus quickly reveal their lack or bevy of power. On the flip side, the legitimacy of the 93-win team from 2021 was regularly questioned due to the AL Central’s lack of quality — despite the Guardians and Royals being matchup nightmares for them — and now it will be slightly harder to craft a narrative to dismiss a competitive White Sox team. Not impossible, though, since if we can pretend the schedule has a significant impact, we can do anything. — James Fegan

Yankees must wait until June for Red Sox

Yankees fans will see the results of MLB’s new balanced schedule immediately with the Giants in town for Opening Day. It’ll be the first time New York hosts San Francisco since July 2016. A couple of more interesting schedule notes for the Yankees: Their first matchup with the Red Sox doesn’t happen until June 9. They’ll travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers on June 2 for a three-game series. They’ll be in Pittsburgh for Roberto Clemente Day on Sept. 15 and close the season on a six-game road trip to Toronto and Kansas City. — Chris Kirschner

(Top photo of Yankee Stadium: Thomas A. Ferrara / Newsday via Getty Images)

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