MLB Schedule For '13 Includes Additional Divisional Game, 20 Interleague Matchups
After two years of experimenting with midweek starts to the season, MLB next year will revert to its customary practice of a Sunday night/Monday afternoon start to the ’13 season. The tentative master schedule, publicly released this afternoon, features an as-yet-undetermined primetime matchup on ESPN on Sunday, March 31, and then a dozen Opening Day games on Monday, April 1. Overall, the schedule is highlighted by the move of the Astros to the AL and the implementation of interleague play throughout the season, representing some of the most significant changes since the introduction of interleague play in '97 and the last league expansion in '98. Under the new format, teams will play their four division opponents 19 times each, up from 18. Non-division league opponents will be played six or seven times each, down from varied schedules that reached as high as 10 games. Each team will play 20 interleague games, up from 18. MLB additionally has slated a "Prime Rivals" week in late May in which each club will play its natural interleague rival for two games on May 27-28, and then two more games the following two days in the other team's home park. Interleague play overall has been scheduled in a more systemic fashion in which teams beyond their natural rivals will each play all five teams from another division. The NL West has been paired with the AL East for those games, the AL West with the NL Central and the NL East with the AL Central. The Astros will begin the season on April 2 at home against the Rangers.
CHANGE TO DRAFT DATE: The '13 schedule also features a shift in the annual First-Year Player Draft from its typical Monday start. Next year's draft will begin on Thursday, June 6. The regular season will end Sunday, Sept. 29, allowing additional time for the expanded postseason that begins this year under a more compressed calendar.