Boston Red Sox benefit from balanced 2023 schedule

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: A general view of the stadium as the sun sets before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 22, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: A general view of the stadium as the sun sets before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 22, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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The Red Sox will see fewer divisional opponents next season

With the Boston Red Sox floundering at the bottom of their division, entering the day sitting four games under .500 and seven games out of a Wild Card spot, fans can’t be blamed for looking ahead to next year. The team has revealed their 2023 regular season schedule and there are plenty of highlights to look forward to on a calendar that’s a bit different from what we’re accustomed to.

While the Red Sox will open next season against an AL East rival, the most notable takeaway from the 2023 schedule is the lack of divisional games. Boston begins their season by hosting the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on Thursday, March 30 and they end the season with a trip to Camden Yards for a series that wraps up the schedule on October 1. Between those two series, the Red Sox only have two other series against the Orioles.

As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, MLB is implementing a more balanced schedule for next year. Every team will get the opportunity to face each of the other 29 teams at least once.

Under the new format, teams will have 13 games spread over four series against each division rival instead of 19 games over six series. That drops the number of divisional games from 76 to 52. This is a welcome change for a Red Sox team that has struggled against their division rivals this year. Boston enters Thursday’s series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays with a dismal 16-34 record against AL East teams this season.

The loaded division is headlined by the powerhouse New York Yankees who have been in firm control of the division race all year. The Jays and Tampa Bay Rays hold the top two Wild Card spots. All three teams are likely to make the playoffs. The surprising Orioles are lurking 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Those teams are all expected to be in the hunt again next year.

Most divisions have at least one pushover to beat up on, allowing contenders to pad their win total against them. There are no soft spots in the AL East, where every team could realistically finish with at least a .500 record. The Red Sox are at the bottom of the barrel in their division but their .484 winning percentage is in the middle of the pack by major league standards. Boston would have the third-best record in two of the other five divisions and the AL East is the only one where they would be in last place.

The Red Sox still need to compete for placement in the standings in baseball’s toughest division but fewer games against divisional opponents should benefit them in terms of their strength of schedule. More interleague games mean the Red Sox will face each of the top National League teams but that’s balanced with games against the weaker clubs from the senior circuit.

The downside is that their division rivals also share those same benefits. Fewer games against divisional opponents might make it more difficult to climb back in the race for teams that fall behind early since head-to-head meetings are the best way to gain ground on the teams they are chasing.

Boston hasn’t been able to win those divisional games this season. Each meeting with a division rival seems to push them further out of the race. As strong as the rest of the division looks, the Red Sox will gladly exchange some of those divisional series for more interleague play.

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