Schedule quirks as Phillies prepare for a regular season unlike any other


Phillies pitchers and catchers report on February 16, there are less than three weeks until the first spring training game and 52 days until the regular-season opener.

It'll all be here before you know it.

The 2023 regular season will be unlike any other because of how the schedule has been reformatted for each team to face the other 29. The Phillies, for example, face the Rangers, Yankees, White Sox, Mariners and Astros in the month of April alone -- 15 games against the American League. 

Last season, 15 of the Phillies' first 28 games were against the division. This season, they won't play their 15th game against the division until June 21, some 74 games in.

In recent years, teams faced their division foes 19 times apiece for 76 games total. This season, they'll face division foes 13 times apiece for 52 games. 

It will be harder moving forward for a team to win its division by dominating the last place or bottom two teams. The Phillies, Braves and Mets all benefited from having so many games last season against the Nationals and Marlins, with the Phils going a combined 28-10 while the Braves and Mets went 27-11.

It was even more pronounced in the NL Central, where the Cardinals and Brewers got to play 57 games combined against the 100-loss Reds, 100-loss Pirates and an 88-loss Cubs team that would've been closer to the mid-90s if they themselves didn't also benefit from playing Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The Cardinals went 38-19 in those games and 55-50 in all others. The Brewers went 33-24 against those three clubs and 53-52 against everyone else.

The schedule balance should lead to fairer playoff races, especially with as many teams now getting in as wild cards as through winning the division.

It will also lead to fanbases more often seeing superstars from non-NL East cities. Phillies fans will get their first live glimpse of Seattle's Julio Rodriguez in April, with the Red Sox and Blue Jays visiting a week later. Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and the Angels will be in Philly for a second straight summer. There's a stretch from Aug. 4-13 where the Phillies host the Royals and Twins for three games apiece, teams that have played a combined 15 games here in the two decades of Citizens Bank Park's existence.

Some other 2023 Phillies schedule notes:

• They have just one series against the NL East through May 24 -- a three-gamer at home against the Marlins from April 10-12. 

• The end of April into May should be their toughest stretch of the season with three games in Houston, no off day, then three at Dodger Stadium. The Phils then come home for two more tough opponents in the Red Sox and Blue Jays before heading out West to play the Rockies and Giants in ballparks where they haven't had much recent success. 

It's a stretch of games reminiscent of last May when the Phillies went on a run of Mets, Mariners, Dodgers, Padres, Dodgers, Braves, Mets. Joe Girardi was fired less than a week later and the team took off under manager Rob Thomson and a softer schedule.

• Nearly half of the Phillies' games against the Braves come in a one-week span from Sept. 12-19. More than half of their matchups with the Mets (7) take place in the final 10 games of the season.

• The Phillies are scheduled for two Sunday afternoon games on Peacock: April 23 against the Rockies and September 3 against the Brewers.

They're scheduled for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball four times, all away from home: April 2 in Texas, April 30 in Houston, May 28 in Atlanta and August 20 against the Nationals in the Little League Classic at Williamsport.

• Based on expected miles traveled in 2023, the Phillies are the least affected team in all of MLB, according to this handy chart from Joe Doyle at The Phillies are set to travel just six miles more than they did last season. The Giants, meanwhile, are set to travel more than 11,000 additional miles. Gabe's fellas will be wearing out those neck pillows.

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