Major League Baseball released the 2013 master schedule, and all teams, including the Miami Marlins, will receive a little bit of an odd change from recent times. With the moving of the Houston Astros to the AL West, interleague play is now scheduled throughout the season for the first time since its inception in 1997.
For the Marlins, who still hold the all-time record for winning percentage in interleague play, you might not think this is necessarily a bad thing. Of course, I do not buy into the concept of the Marlins somehow being better in interleague play, and it is not as if this format is actually going to increase interleague games in the first place. It turns out that interleague play will not necessarily expand in terms of count; each team is still going to play only 20 interleague games a season, just like in previous years. The difference is that these games will be spread out throughout the season.
Who will the Marlins be facing in interleague this season?It looks as though the Fish will get a chance at the AL Central this year, starting in April in a quick two-game set against the Minnesota Twins in Target Field. Of course, with the Marlins visiting the AL Central, the marquee matchup is going to be on May 24, with the Fish visiting U.S. Cellular Field for a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox. That is right, the returns of Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle to Chicago will occur in the second month of the season and in the first week of featured interleague play throughout baseball. That week, the Marlins will conclude their set with a home-and-home set of two-game series versus their interstate rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Marlins finish up interleague play with three-game sets also against the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, and Detroit Tigers (to finish the season, no less) along with another two games versus the Twins at home. The games versus Detroit signal the first time Miguel Cabrera will be returning to south Florida since trade in 2007.
Notably absent in the interleague schedule for the Fish are the Astros, who moved to the AL West and are thus not facing the Fish this season. While not having to make multiple extra trips over the west coast will be a savior for my ability to watch games, it certainly would have been nice to face down Houston again after the way they finished off our season series in 2012 with one of their relievers beaning a Marlin and flashing a "Lo Viste" sign at the Fish dugout.
As a result of the move, the divisions will all be balanced at five teams each for the very first time since moving to the six-division, two-league format in 1995. Because of these moves, in addition to every day interleague play, division play will also be balanced at 19 games with each division rival. For the Marlins, that is not a whole lot different to what they usually do, but it does decrease the odds that the previously super-sized NL Central division will get away with bonus games against their cellar dwellers and extra games avoided against their top division foes. The Fish will kick things off on Opening Day versus a division rival, the soon-to-be defending NL East champion Washington Nationals, in a three-game set with the odd early season mid-series split.