Major League Baseball finalized the start times for the 2023 schedule on Tuesday, which gives a chance to dig into the minutiae of the first “normal” baseball season in four years.
Think about it — a pandemic wiped out nearly two thirds of the 2020 season, and 2021 was affected by both COVID restrictions and concerns over stretching out pitchers after playing only 60 games the year before. The 2022 season was marred by a 99-day lockout that truncated spring training and required shoehorning in the previously-canceled first week of games throughout the rest of the year.
In 2023, things are relatively normal, except for the monumental shift of every team playing the other 29 MLB teams every single year going forward. The main schedule change is fewer divisional games, down from six series against every divisional foe to four, for a total of 24 fewer games. Playing every other team requires more interleague games, increasing from 20 to 46 in that area.
Very generally, swapping games against relatively-close opponents in the National League West for other series much further away will add to the odometer. By very rough calculation, the Dodgers will go from just over 43,000 air miles in 2022 to something like 48,000 in 2023, for instance.
Dodgers weekday start times
|Start time (PT)||2022||2023|
|Start time (PT)||2022||2023|
|7 p.m. or later||47||52|
|5 p.m. hour||12||9|
|4 p.m. hour||10||17|
|1 p.m. or earlier||17||13|
But it terms of actual start times, adding so many games against both East divisions won’t materially change much. Remember, half of the games added are at home. And some of the lost divisional games are replaced by games against against Seattle and Oakland, both in the Pacific time zone.
Comparing the weekday games (Monday through Friday) in the 2022 and 2023 schedules, the Dodgers this year will have 52 games start in the 7 p.m. PT hour, compared to 47 last year. Last year had 63 Dodgers games start at 6:30 p.m. PT or later, with 62 such games coming this year.
The Dodgers host five weekday day games at Dodger Stadium this season, starting a Wednesday season finale at either 12:10 p.m. or 1:10 p.m. PT. Last year, the Dodgers had seven weekday home games, but two of those were the first game of a split doubleheader, which was necessitated by the lockout schedule changes.
So other than playing some different teams, our relative watching schedules won’t change all that much, at least this year.
In this first “normal” season since 2019, the full regular season will spread over the usual 186 days, rather than cramming things in to 182 days after the lockout last year.
That means more days off in 2023, and fewer extended stretches.
Remember the 31 games in 30 days last May and into June? There’s nothing like that this year. Even ignoring the two doubleheaders during that 2022 stretch, just focusing on the back end, the Dodgers had a game for 17 consecutive days, three shy of the maximum allowed by the collective bargaining agreement.
In 2023, the Dodgers don’t have any stretches longer than 13 days without a day off. There are three such runs this year — from May 12-24, then August 1-13, and from August 22 to September 3. They also have a 12-day stretch from June 27 to July 8.
The Dodgers only have one scheduled doubleheader this season, which comes on the road on Tuesday, September 26 against the Rockies at Coors Field.
Having four more off days throughout the season helps spread things out. The Dodgers have six off days in June, including all four Mondays off during the month, for instance.
For a stretch of a little over two weeks, the Dodgers can sleep in their own beds. After returning from a road trip from Philadelphia on Sunday night, June 11, the Dodgers are off that Monday before hosting six games against the White Sox and Giants. Next up is a brief two-game series against the Angels in Anaheim on June 20-21, surrounded by off days that Monday and Thursday. Then the Dodgers are back home for a weekend series against the Astros, before an off day on June 26 when LA will travel to Denver. That’s four off days in a 15-day stretch.
Eight more off days await in July, including four days during the All-Star break, plus the Sunday before the break off for a second straight year after a brief two-game home series against the Angels.
The Dodgers’ longest road trip of the season is ten games, from May 18-28, with four games in St. Louis followed by three games each in Atlanta and Tampa Bay. The next-longest trip comes directly after the All-Star break, with nine games on the road against the Mets, Orioles, and Rangers from July 14-23.
Dodger Stadium’s longest residency of 2023 comes from August 10-20, with ten home games against the Rockies, Brewers, and Marlins over 11 days. The Dodgers also have a nine-game homestand against the Blue Jays, Reds, and A’s from July 24 to August 3, with home off days between each series.
Opening day is Thursday, March 30 at home against the Diamondbacks. The regular season ends on Sunday, October 1 in San Francisco.