The Tampa Bay Rays had their 2023 schedule released alongside the reset of the league on Wednesday, one that may be more favorable to them than recent years.
In their 25th anniversary season as a Major League team, they will open up at home against the Detroit Tigers from March 30-April 2, the same team they opened up against in 1998. The biggest news with this schedule is the first year of major league baseball incorporating a balanced schedule around the league.
Although clubs will still play against their division rivals often, the frequency has dropped significantly. For the last few decades, the Rays have played each AL East opponent 18 or 19 games a season, but now will face them only 13 times. These 20 or so games, as well as other shifts in the typical schedule, will be reallocated toward more interleague play, so that every team in baseball faces all 29 other teams throughout the season. This is a huge shift the Major League Baseball, but one the Tampa Bay Rays will surely benefit from.
Tampa Bay plays in the most difficult division in all of baseball. The worst team in their division is the Boston Red Sox, who was a contender most of the year and sits at 60-64 on the season. Instead of playing through the gauntlet of the AL East 20 more games a year, they will now have an opportunity to face other opponents. Some of these clubs will be contenders, but others will be rebuilding clubs that will make for easier opponents.
In general, baseball fans will surely welcome seeing different teams more often in their schedule. Everyone loves playing division rivals, but taking away just a few matchups a year for the sake of seeing some of the game's brightest starts should make for even more interesting baseball on a nightly basis.