The biggest change is that the Houston Astros will be in the American League. They won’t be in the Royals’ division so actually that by itself will not directly affect the Royals very much at all. The Royals played the Astros three times this year and will do so six times next year. But there is a very noticeable knock-on effect from the move: with both leagues having 15 teams there now must be interleague play throughout the year. There will be two more interleague games next season than this and the Royals will actually play the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia before even having a home game next season. The biggest drawback to the schedule change though is that the Royals actually have fewer games against the St Louis Cardinals and none on a weekend! This is a fairly major oversight from the schedule setters who perhaps do not realise the importance of the I-70 series to both teams and how many fans travel across the state in both directions each year. To set back-to-back two game series instead of the usual weekend three game series a big error.
There are a few other items of note in the schedule as well. What immediately jumped out is the return to having Opening Day on a Monday and the final game on a Sunday. Whilst I can see the argument for having an opening series on the weekend, I really like the Sunday finishes and I prefer this way. Related is that the schedule starts exactly on the first of April next year. This makes it almost a week earlier than this year which is a welcome change. Although it appears to be only by happenstance due to the return to Monday starts, I have long been in favour of starting each season on or as close to 1 April as possible.
Some other points for the Royals:
-The schedule is still an ‘unbalanced’ one and in fact more so than it was this year. Next year there will be 19 games against each of the other Central Division opponents instead of 18 apiece as we had this year. Specifically it breaks down for the Royals as five three game series and one four game series against each of the other AL Central teams.
-The Royals only have one weekend series against the Minnesota Twins, a four game series in Minnesota, out of six total matchups. As with the I-70 series this is disappointing as Royals-Twins series are quite popular with travelling fans.
-Robinson Cano will be booed in Kauffman Stadium from 10-12 May.
-Slightly unusually, the Royals will neither open nor close the season at home. Instead next year both the first and last games will be at US Cellular Field against the Chicago White Sox. The home opener is 8 April against the Twins and the final home game (assuming there is no playoff baseball for the Royals) will be 22 September against the Texas Rangers