MLB is revolutionizing beyond just pitch clocks and new on-field rules. This season, the schedule has changed – everyone plays everyone, and the segregated AL and NL matchups are gone. Each club plays 46 interleague games this year with the purpose of playing all 29 other teams at least once annually.
The adjustment also nixes the number of interdivisional games from 76 to 52. For example, the Orioles played 19 games against the Yankees last season. Now they’ll play just 13 – that’s advantageous for clubs in strong divisions.
Here’s how MLB’s new balanced schedule impacts baseball bettors.
MLB’s Balanced Schedule: Who Benefits?
|AL East||438-372 (.540)|
|AL Central||382-428 (.472)|
|AL West||397-413 (.490)|
|NL East||413-397 (.510)|
|NL Central||377-433 (.465)|
|NL West||423-387 (.522)|
Keep in mind these changes only alter a club’s chances to make the playoffs. World Series odds aren’t impacted by schedule changes, as the postseason format stays the same.
AL East (Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, Yankees)
Long considered baseball’s toughest division, the AL East will no longer hack itself to bits and will instead redirect some of that fury toward the rest of the league. Combined, the five teams will play 24 fewer games (six less per team) within the division, meaning those games will be made up against NL teams.
Boston greatly benefits from the new format. A season ago, the Red Sox got crunched by the division, finishing the year with a 26-50 record vs the AL East. Even if the Sox end up on the bottom of the totem pole, they still have a higher win upside than a season ago. Betting the OVER 78.5 on Boston’s season win total suddenly looks like a strong play.
MLB’s Balanced Schedule: Who Suffers?
The AL has won interleague play over the last two seasons (319-281), so the most adversely impacted division is bound to come from the senior circuit.
NL Central (Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Reds)
The Cardinals are good and the Cubs are on the rise, but this NL Central Division (the worst group in the majors last year) will no longer be protected by lackadaisical infighting with plenty of wins handed out. Bottom-feeding clubs such as the Pirates and Reds will now be exposed to the rest of MLB – and the landscape is cold and brutal.
St. Louis might be in trouble. The Cards went 48-28 against the Central last year – not all those wins will be free for the taking this season. Their 88.5 projected win total is still doable, though I don’t hate an UNDER bet at -105. The same goes for the Brewers at 85.5 wins – I’ll take an even harder UNDER on them.
Players Who Benefit From MLB’s Balanced Schedule
Here are the hitters and pitchers who benefit the most from MLB’s new balanced schedule.
Aaron Judge, Yankees (+650 to win AL MVP)
As if last year’s AL MVP needed any more help. Judge posted one of MLB’s all-time great seasons a year ago, and he’ll be primed for another monster season in 2023. In 2022, Judge slashed .395/.474/.840 with 10 homers in interleague play, good for a 1.313 OPS, the best mark among players with at least 50 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old destroys NL pitching. With the Yankees getting an easier schedule that includes a mittful of games against the senior circuit, Judge is well worth another MVP futures bet.
Patrick Corbin, Nationals (MLB’s Least Profitable Pitcher in 2022)
Last year was an abomination for Corbin, in every way imaginable. For the second season in a row, the lefty led MLB in losses (19), while also leading the majors in hits (210) and earned runs (107) allowed. When the train wreck was complete, he totaled as baseball’s least profitable pitcher (-$1,624 if you bet $100 on every one of his starts).
Sports bettors hearing Patrick Corbin is starting Opening Day for the Washington Nationals pic.twitter.com/nbVXpOB4Lr— br_betting (@br_betting) March 24, 2023
Fewer games within the NL East should benefit Corbin, whose 6.95 ERA vs the division was only marginally higher than his 6.31 season ERA. That said, 104 of his 210 hits allowed came in 67.1 innings vs NL East teams – an unthinkable tally. He might not become a good pitcher in 2023, but he’ll improve.
Players Who Suffer Under MLB’s Balanced Schedule
For each winner the schedule produces, there’s an even bigger loser.
Joe Ryan, Twins (+7500 to win AL Cy Young)
I’m singling out Ryan, who despite being a good young arm with Cy Young upside, has been brutal in seven starts against the NL. The 26-year-old has allowed nine homers in 36 innings (2.3 HR/9) vs the senior circuit, some terrible peripherals to go along with his 6.00 ERA. By contrast, Ryan has been filthy (1.84 ERA) in 15 career starts against the always-easy AL Central. His stats will no longer be elevated by juicy matchups, making him a candidate for regression in 2023.
Tim Anderson, White Sox (+20000 to win AL MVP)
Anderson hit his stride in 2019 when he led the majors with a .335 batting average. Oddly enough, that’s when his struggles vs interleague pitching began. Since 2019, Anderson’s .591 OPS vs the NL is the ninth-worst mark among hitters with at least 150 plate appearances. Simply put, he stinks against NL pitchers, and he’ll see plenty more of them in 2023.
Like Ryan and the Twins, Anderson’s White Sox won’t reap the benefits of fruitful series vs the Tigers and Royals. He’ll now face tougher pitching – and if he struggles, Chicago could miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.