Whenever weather allows this Dodgers-Twins series to start, it will represent a rarity, but something we will get used to in the coming years. More interleague play is on the way.
One of the elements of the new collective bargaining agreement is a change in the schedule beginning in 2023. “I think the balanced schedule will be a real improvement for our fans,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a press conference on March 10. “It will give our fans a greater opportunity to see all of the great players in the game on a more regular basis.”
That means playing every other team in MLB each season, 29 other opponents. The Dodgers in 2022 play 20 teams, for instance, and last year played 19 teams.
Jayson Stark at The Athletic in March laid out all the details, which includes 20 fewer divisional games each season:
Here’s how the 2023 schedule will look:
56 Games in Division — 14 vs. each division rival
60 Games vs. Rest of League — 6 vs. each remaining team in league
46 Games of Interleague Play — 3 games apiece vs. 14 teams in other league; 4 games vs. “natural” rival
Interleague play began in 1997, and for the first five seasons was limited to games with teams from the same directional division in the other league. The National League West played the American League West, and so forth. In 2002, that was opened up so teams would at least occasionally play teams from other divisions, and in 2013 teams began playing 20 interleague games per year, rotating to a specific division every three years.
Playing a team in some cases only once every three years creates for long stretches without trips to certain cities. The Dodgers hadn’t played in Minnesota since 2014, and only made three total trips there to play the Twins (2006 and 2011 as well).
The only two Dodgers still around from their last trip at Target Field are Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner. Kershaw has never pitched a regular season game in Minnesota, though did pitch a scoreless inning there at the 2014 All-Star Game. He’ll check that box with his Wednesday start, weather permitting. Turner started the final game of that 2014 series, the second game of a doubleheader necessitated by rain earlier in the week. He played shortstop.
Since the inception of interleague play, the Dodgers and Twins have only played 15 games against each other. That’s tied with the Orioles for third-fewest games played against a single opponent. LA has played only Cleveland (12 games) and the Royals (11 games) less often.
But with a balanced schedule, the Dodgers and Twins will play every year, which means trips to Minnesota much more often. Games like this won’t be so rare anymore.
- Teams: Dodgers (1-2) at Twins (2-2)
- Location: Target Field
- Time: 4:40 p.m. PT
- TV: SportsNet LA