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Blue Jays Home Schedule: Unusual Opponents Coming to the Rogers Centre in 2023
11 months ago
This past offseason, a number of rule changes were introduced to Major League Baseball to tackle numerous aspects of the game including introducing pitch clocks, increasing base size to help prevent injury, and limiting the shift across the diamond (amongst other rules). For the Blue Jays, this will really benefit the club when it comes to being more aggressive on the base paths and also having fewer players on one side of the infield for pull hitters like newly acquired Daulton Varsho.
Another change coming to the 2023 season will be the introduction of a new schedule format, one that will see each MLB team face each of the other 29 teams at least once throughout the season. Each team will now face their division rivals less throughout the year (down to 12 games for each AL East team compared to the 19 last year) and also allows fans to see baseball teams from across the league with increased interleague contests.
That being said, when you look at the Blue Jays 2023 schedule, there are some interesting series that will be coming to the Rogers Centre that fans may want to circle on the calendar. Whether it be a star-studded lineup heading North of the border or a team that hasn’t set foot in Canada in a long time, here are some unusual opponents heading to the Rogers Centre during the 2023 season.
Atlanta Braves – May 12th to 14th
Because of COVID-19, the Toronto Blue Jays played the Atlanta Braves as the home team back in late April of 2021 but did so at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, as cross-border travel restrictions didn’t allow the Jays to return to the Rogers Centre until late July. That year, the Jays and Braves faced off six times and Toronto walked away with a perfect 6-0 season record although the Braves got the last laugh as the club ended up winning the World Series later that year.
Led by former Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves return to the Rogers Centre for the first time since August 2019, where the Jays and Braves faced each other in a two-game series that was split 1-1. Fans will want to come down to the ballpark to watch a talented squad featuring Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Spencer Strider, Max Fried, and Canadian Mike Soroka, who is on schedule to return to the MLB this year after a slew of injuries derailed his 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons.
Milwaukee Brewers – May 30th to June 1st
Heading North of the border for the first time since 2017 will be the Milwaukee Brewers, who will be in town for a midweek three-game series at the end of May and into early June.
For Blue Jays fans, the Brewers will be bringing three strong starters: Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Brandon Woodruff, so the likelihood of seeing one or two of these arms is rather high at the Rogers Centre. Jays fans will also get to potentially see a top closer in Devin Williams, although many will likely hope it is in a non-save situation. Positionally, Christian Yelich, Willy Adames, and newly acquired William Contreras will be with the squad this year while a few top prospects in Bryce Turang and Garrett Mitchell could be in the lineup as well.
Canadian Abraham Toro will also be part of the infield while a reunion of sorts is in order for Rowdy Tellez, who heads back to Canada after being traded to the Brewers back in mid-2021 in exchange for reliever Trevor Richards and RHP Bowden Francis.
San Francisco Giants – June 27th to 29th
It has been almost four years since the Giants made their way to Toronto and a lot has changed since then. The last time San Francisco was at the Rogers Centre, Buster Posey was behind the plate, Brandon Belt was the club’s first baseman, and Kevin Pillar had recently been traded to the Giants and was taking reps on the opposite side of the diamond.
Fast forward to today and the Giants have a completely different squad, with Brandon Crawford being one of the only stalwarts remaining on the roster since that 2019 roster while Belt is now with the Blue Jays. On the mound, fans could potentially see Logan Webb, Sean Manaea, and former Jay Ross Stripling, as well as former Blue Jays draft pick Anthony DeSclafani (sixth round in 2011), while Blue Jays free agent target Michael Conforto will be in the outfield alongside Joc Pederson, LaMonte Wade Jr., Mitch Haniger, and Mike Yaztrzemski.
On Wednesday night (June 28th), the Jays will also be giving away a Kevin Gausman “splitter” replica jersey to the first 15,000 fans in attendance.
Arizona Diamondbacks – July 14th to 16th
For those of you who did not approve of the Gabriel Moreno/Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for Daulton Varsho deal, you’re in luck, as the former Blue Jays will be returning to the Rogers Centre for a three-game series just after the All-Star break.
The Diamondbacks haven’t set foot in Toronto since June 9th, 2019 and will be bringing a younger crew to the Rogers Centre, bolstered by a talented outfield grouping of Corbin Caroll, Alek Thomas, and Jake McCarthy while also being joined by former Jays’ trade rumour target Ketel Marte. On the mound, be on the lookout for ace Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and veteran Madison Bumgarner as well as Andrew Chafin, Mark Melancon, and former Blue Jays reliever/closer Miguel Castro in the bullpen.
San Diego Padres – July 18th to 20th
Similar to the Diamondbacks, it’s been roughly four years since the San Diego Padres have travelled to the Rogers Centre and this three-game series is going to be one of the most exciting of the year.
The Padres have a loaded roster heading into the 2023 season, looking to improve upon their ALCS loss to the Phillies last year. In the rotation, fans can see one of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Michael Wacha, or Joe Musgrove as well as talented relievers Josh Hader and Robert Suarez. Position player-wise, this will be one of the most stacked lineups the Blue Jays will face, with Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts, Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, Trent Grisham, and Nelson Cruz all likely to be pencilled in.
Although this three-game series is during the week (Tuesday to Thursday), this might be one to consider calling in sick to work for.
Los Angeles Angels – July 28th to July 30th
The Angels and the Blue Jays play each other regularly, with the Angels making the trek to Toronto last year in late August.
The reason this particular series makes the list comes down to two reasons:
- Jays fans will get a chance to see some of the best players in the game: Mike Trout and two-way player Shohei Ohtani
- This series is smack dab in the trade deadline window
Point #2 is the one that is driving the bus here, mostly because Shohei Ohtani is eligible for free agency after this season and while Angels ownership no longer appears to be selling, the hot stove will likely be on fire with all eyes on this series if Ohtani becomes available via trade. This could all be a moot point if the Angels and Ohtani sign an extension before this series but if not, one would think the club will be sellers if they are struggling at the deadline (again, moot point if the Angels aren’t struggling as well).
Factor in that the Angels will likely be bringing some young talent in the form of Reid Detmers, Griffin Canning, Patrick Sandoval, Logan O’Hoppe, and Jo Adell, as well as former Blue Jays Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera, Brandon Drury, and Gio Urshela making a return, this series is one to keep an eye on this year.
Chicago Cubs – August 11th to 13th
The Chicago Cubs were actually in Toronto last season in late August and will be returning for the second year in a row. While Jays fans saw them last season, the Cubs team this year is a lot different than what came North of the border last year.
Players that joined the Cubs this past offseason include Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Drew Smyly, Tucker Barnhart, Trey Mancini, Brad Boxberger, Michael Fulmer, Edwin Rios, and Jameson Taillon, a vastly improved 2022 roster that posted a 74-88 record.
Returning to Toronto will be former fan favourite Marcus Stroman and former catching prospect Yan Gomes, while former relievers Ryan Borucki, Anthony Kay, and Julian Merryweather are currently battling for a spot in the Cubs bullpen this Spring.
Philadelphia Phillies – August 15th to 16th
Similar to the Cubs, Philadelphia made its way to Toronto last season in mid-July, a turbulent time for the Blue Jays squad. The front office fired Charlie Montoyo after the first game of the two-game series, with Schneider earning his first win as manager against the Phillies in the second game. The Phillies would eventually finish in third place in the NL East but fought their way to the World Series, eventually losing to the Houston Astros through six games.
The Phillies roster remains pretty consistent compared to the 2022 roster, although Noah Syndergaard, Zach Eflin, and Kyle Gibson are no longer on the squad. Fans can come to the ballpark to hopefully see Bryce Harper, who is scheduled to return from offseason surgery by mid-July, as well as Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Taijuan Walker on the mound. Alec Bohm, Kyle Schwarber, and J.T. Realmuto will also be on the squad while fans will also get to see newly signed Trea Turner as well.
Washington Nationals – August 28th to 30th
Toronto hosted the Nationals back in 2021 but the Blue Jays were still down in Dunedin, so this will be the Nats’ first trip to the Rogers Centre since 2018.
For context, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez were in the rotation while the lineup boasted names like Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, and Trea Turner, with this group eventually winning the World Series the following year. On the Jays, Marco Estrada, Sam Gaviglio, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, and Marcus Stroman were in the Jays rotation while the roster was quickly being thinned away but still had veterans Russell Martin, Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, Kendrys Morales, and Randall Grichuk. This was also a year before Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio made their MLB debuts while Danny Jansen saw a bit of action late in the year.
The Nationals roster coming to Toronto this season is quite different compared to back in 2018. Long gone are the likes of Turner, Scherzer, and Soto while the squad itself is younger and likely to be more prospect heavy featuring players like Mackenzie Gore, Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Cade Cavalli, CJ Abrams, Jeremy De La Rosa, and Carter Kieboom (amongst many others). There are a few former Blue Jays on the Nats roster as well, including catcher Riley Adams, reliever Carl Edwards Jr., and outfielders Corey Dickerson and Lane Thomas.
Those who enjoy watching top prospects will likely enjoy this series, especially if Robert Hassell III or Cole Henry have muscled their way onto the roster, but fans may also get a chance to see Stephen Strasburg, although he has struggled through injuries over the past few seasons and is dealing with setbacks to begin the 2023 season.
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