Cubs fan guide to the 2023 MLB season
For the first time in four years, the Cubs have had a normal, calm Spring Training.
Well, sort of.
While the World Baseball Classic was very entertaining, it also meant almost a dozen Cubs players were away from the team’s spring camp for a couple weeks, including Opening Day starter Marcus Stroman.
But for the first time in David Ross’ managerial tenure, the Cubs did not have to contend with COVID-19 or a lockout that inhibited camp.
Apart from the WBC, the Cubs have had a normal, six-week runway to the regular season.
“This has been very calm,” Ross said. “It’s been fun; I feel like I’m connecting to the players a little more than I had in the past, where it’s felt like I’m constantly organizing or trying to plan and have so many meetings in the morning with staff and minor league staff. Now we don’t even have those meetings anymore.
“We have stuff come up, I grab an individual coach or we talk through things in the game and it’s been really just trying to plan to take care of these guys’ bodies, listen to ’em.”
[Follow the Cubs Weekly Podcast all season long. Subscribe on Apple, Spotify or YouTube.]
The Cubs are hoping that normal Spring Training will help lead to a successful 2023 campaign. The team finished last year on a high note, going 39-31 after the All-Star Break.
Jed Hoyer’s front office added reinforcements this winter and the Cubs head into 2023 with eyes on the NL Central title.
Here’s what fans need to know entering the new season.
The Cubs usher in the 2023 MLB season on March 30 against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Marcus Stroman will take the ball for Chicago, opposing 2021 NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes.
Marquee Sports Network has an action-packed slate leading up to the first pitch of the regular season.
On Monday night, Lance Brozdowski and MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis will break down all things minor leagues on “Road to Wrigley: Prospect Preview” airing at 6 p.m.
Next up, there is a 2023 Season Preview Special airing at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29.
On Thursday, there will be a 2-hour “Cubs Live!” starting at 11 a.m. with host Cole Wright and an All-Star crew of analysts Cliff Floyd, Dexter Fowler and Rick Sutcliffe.
You also won’t want to miss the premiere of “Cubs Flicks” immediately following the postgame show on Opening Day. The show will feature never-before-seen footage of some legendary figures in Cubs history.
Click here for the complete rundown of Opening Week coverage on Marquee Sports Network.
Major League Baseball is instituting a handful of new rules that will change a lot about the game, including the way fans view baseball.
There is a new pitch clock in place for this season and pitchers have to deliver the ball in 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on. Failure to deliver in that time frame will result in an automatic ball.
There will be a 30-second clock between batters and if a hitter isn’t in the box and alert to the pitcher with 8 seconds left on the clock, they will be charged an automatic strike. Batters are allowed one timeout per plate appearance.
Pitchers are only able to disengage the rubber twice during a plate appearance. So that includes pickoffs or stepping off the rubber to reset or anything else. If a pitcher attempts a third pickoff throw, the runner gets to advance a base unless the pickoff is successful.
There is also a restriction in shifts, so teams are no longer able to stack the right side of the field with defenders against left-handed hitters. There will have to be two fielders on either side of the second base bag and all infielders will have to have their feet on the dirt when the pitch is thrown.
Teams have found ways around the shift already this spring, by deploying the shortstop up the middle and just to the left of the second base bag. A couple times, teams even moved the left fielder over to shallow right field against extreme pull lefties like Joey Gallo.
The league made some minor tweaks to the pitch clock and shifting rules recently. Here is the full rundown on those adjustments.
On top of all that, the league also increased the size of the bases, going from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. That means a 4.5-inch reduction in distance between first and second base and also second and third base.
The bigger bases were designed to limit injuries and avoid collisions around the bag but that coupled with the pitch clock and disengagement rules will likely lead to an increase in stolen bases around the game. The shifting restrictions will also lead to an uptick in offense as more singles will be able to scamper through the infield.
Here’s how the Cubs could be primed to thrive with the new rules.
The rule changes have absolutely improved pace of play, as game time is down 25 minutes this spring compared to last year.
MLB is playing a balanced schedule in 2023 for the first time, as each team plays all 29 other squads throughout the season. Which means the Cubs will face off against Mike Trout and the Angels in 2023 and then again in 2024 and in 2025 — instead of playing some AL opponents only once every three years.
That does mean a dip in divisional games, as the Cubs will go from playing 76 contests against the NL Central to only 52 this season.
The Cubs kick off the season with a 3-game set against the Brewers before hitting the road for a quick trip to Cincinnati and then welcoming a pair of AL West opponents (Rangers, Mariners) back at Wrigley Field from April 7-12.
The Cubs will also play the Cardinals in London this season on June 24-25. Because of that series, the Cubs are actually only in St. Louis once this season — right before the trade deadline (July 27-30).
Check out the entire 2023 Cubs schedule here.
The Cubs had a very busy offseason, adding veteran talent all around the field.
The biggest winter addition was shortstop Dansby Swanson, as he signed a 7-year, $177 million deal in December. He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 2022 and carries a strong reputation as a leader and winner with a World Series ring (2021 Braves). Swanson’s arrival pushes Nico Hoerner to second base, where he was a Gold Glove finalist in 2020.
The Cubs also added to their lineup by signing:
1B/DH/OF Trey Mancini
1B Eric Hosmer
C Tucker Barnhart
OF Cody Bellinger
1B/3B/DH Edwin Ríos
On the pitching side, Jameson Taillon was the big addition in the rotation and the Cubs also added veterans Michael Fulmer, Brad Boxberger and Julian Merryweather to the bullpen.
Marquee Sports Network is the TV home of the Cubs and fans can watch games all season long.
Head to our channel finder here or the FAQ page for more information.
Check out all of the news from Arizona with our Spring Training notebooks and catch our entire 23 for ’23 series as we answered the top burning questions leading into the Cubs season:
23 for ’23 series
What will the Cubs’ new era at catcher look like?
What is the Cubs’ plan at third base?
Who steps up in the wake of the Seiya Suzuki injury?
What role will Christopher Morel have on the 2023 Cubs?
Who will win the Cubs’ 5th starter spot?
Where does Nick Madrigal fit on the roster?
Who will close for the Cubs?
What kind of impact will Dansby Swanson have in his first season in Chicago?
What is the plan for Matt Mervis?
Who are some under-the-radar players that could make the Opening Day roster?
What will Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer bring to this team?
Which young Cubs pitchers will take the next step this season?
What can we expect from Kyle Hendricks when he returns this season?
What does the Opening Day bullpen look like?
Will the Cubs’ pitching staff pick up where it left off?
What will the Opening Day lineup look like?
After career years with Cubs, what’s next for Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner?
Will Cody Bellinger return to his MVP-caliber form?
How will the Cubs balance development of young players with contending for NL Central crown?
Which Cubs players could be primed for a breakout this season?
How will the new MLB rules affect the Cubs?
Which prospects will we see in Chicago this season?
What does a successful season look like for the Cubs?