2021 MLB Opening Day: Date, Time, TV Schedule, How to Watch
MLB Opening Day: Date and Time
Major League Baseball is scheduled to kick off the 2021 regular season on April 1. In some respects, the year will mark a return to normalcy after the pandemic-altered 2020 campaign. Every team is slated to play 162 games, in front of crowds (albeit of varying sizes), and with the intent to serve as one of the 10 teams left standing come October.
All 30 teams were scheduled to open the season on March 26 this year until play was suspended because of the pandemic.
Who is playing on MLB Opening Day
|Photo: Major League Baseball|
Before we get to the good stuff, here is the all-time Opening Day start leaderboard:
1. Tom Seaver: 16 career Opening Day starts
2. Steve Carlton: 14
3. Jack Morris: 14
4. Randy Johnson: 14
5. Walter Johnson: 14
While it's true that Opening Day counts for only one game in the standings, it's still an honor to be tabbed as the starting pitcher for that day. With that in mind, here's who's getting the ball in Game 1 around the league.
Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks have not yet announced a starter for their April 1 opener in San Diego against the Padres. Righty Zac Gallen, fresh off a 2.75 ERA in 72 innings last year, would seem to be the favorite to make his first career Opening Day start. This would be the fourth consecutive season with a different Game 1 starter for the Diamondbacks, as the last three have been helmed by Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, and Patrick Corbin.
Braves: The Braves have not yet announced a starter for their April 1 tilt versus the Phillies. Lefty Max Fried finished fifth in Cy Young Award voting last fall, and he seems like the top candidate to do the deed. Prior to Mike Soroka's start last July, the Braves had sent Julio Teheran to the mound six Opening Days in a row. Teheran's streak is tied with Warren Spahn for the most consecutive in franchise history.
Orioles: The Orioles haven't named their starter for their April 1 game in Boston against the Red Sox. Manager Brandon Hyde wouldn't appear to have many options beyond lefty John Means, who finished second on the staff in innings last season behind the since-traded Alex Cobb. The Orioles haven't had a pitcher make consecutive Opening Day starts since Chris Tillman in 2014-16.
Red Sox: The Red Sox have named Eduardo Rodriguez as their starter for their April 1 opener against the Orioles. Rodriguez missed the 2020 MLB season after developing myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, from his bout with COVID-19. Rodriguez, 27, was 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 213 strikeouts against 75 walks in 203 1/3 innings for Boston in 2019.
Cubs: The Cubs haven't announced who will start their April 1 contest against the Pirates, but it would seem to be a formality that Kyle Hendricks will make a second consecutive Opening Day start. If, for some reason, the Cubs had to turn to someone else in Game 1, it could lead to Jake Arrieta making his second Opening Day start for the franchise. Arrieta started the 2016 opener.
White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito . The White Sox announced that Giolito will make back-to-back Opening Day starts on March 15, per MLB.com's Scott Merkin . Giolito is the first White Sox starter with consecutive Game 1 nods since Chris Sale in 2013-14. If he can make it three straight, he'll join a select group since World War II that includes Mark Buerhle (twice), Jack McDowell, Wilbur Wood, and Billy Pierce. The White Sox open the season on April 1 with a visit to the Angels.
Reds: The Reds haven't announced who will start their April 1 opener against the Cardinals. Logic dictates that it'll be Luis Castillo, as Sonny Gray is expected to miss the first week of the season with an injury. Castillo would be making his second career Opening Day start, having previously kicked off the 2019 campaign.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber . Cleveland named Bieber its Opening Day starter against the Tigers, per MLB.com's Mandy Bell . Bieber will be making his second consecutive Game 1 start. Should he make a third, he'll join Corey Kluber, Justin Masterson, CC Sabathia, and Bartolo Colon as the Cleveland starters to do so since the last round of expansion.
Rockies: The Rockies have not yet named a starter for their April 1 contest against the Dodgers. It reasons that right-hander German Marquez, who led last year's staff in innings pitched, will get the nod. Marquez would be the sixth pitcher in franchise history to start consecutive Opening Days, joining Jon Gray, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mike Hampton, Darryl Kile, and Kevin Ritz.
Tigers: The Tigers haven't announced who will start their April 1 opener against Cleveland. Lefty Matthew Boyd or righty Spencer Turnbull seem like the odds-on favorite. If Boyd wins out, he'll be making his second Opening Day start in a row. The Tigers have had only one pitcher start three consecutive Game 1s since 1998's expansion. That individual? You guessed it, Justin Verlander.
Astros: RHP Zack Greinke . The Astros announced on March 15 that Greinke will start their opener against the Athletics, according to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle . This will mark Greinke's first Opening Day start with the Astros, but not the first of his career. He previously started for the Royals in 2010 and the Diamondbacks in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Justin Verlander had made three consecutive Opening Day starts for Houston.
Royals: The Royals haven't announced who will start their April 1 contest against the Rangers. Danny Duffy, Brad Keller, and Mike Minor are the top candidates. If Duffy earns the nod, it'll mark his fourth career Opening Day start. That would put Duffy in a select group with Dennis Leonard (four) and Kevin Appier (seven) in franchise history.
Angels: RHP Dylan Bundy . The Angels announced on March 15 that Dylan Bundy will receive the honor of starting against the White Sox come April 1, according to MLB.com's Alyson Footer . The Angels haven't had someone start consecutive Opening Days since Jered Weaver did it from 2010-15. There's no guarantee Bundy will break that streak, as he's scheduled to hit free agency come wintertime.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw . Manager Dave Roberts announced on March 14 that Kershaw will make his ninth career Opening Day start, according to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez . Kershaw was robbed of the honor by injury in each of the past two years, including last July when he was a late scratch in favor of Dustin May. Kershaw is a free agent at season's end, and it's possible this is his final Opening Day as a member of the organization. The Dodgers will begin the year on April 1 in Colorado against the Rockies.
Marlins: The Marlins haven't announced who will start their April 1 tilt against the Rays. Sandy Alcantara, Sixto Sanchez, and Pablo Lopez would appear to be the top candidates. Alcantara started last Opening Day for the Marlins.
Brewers: The Brewers haven't announced who will start their April 1 contest against the Twins. The odds-on favorites are either Brandon Woodruff or Corbin Burnes. Woodruff also started last Opening Day, meaning he could be the first Brewers starter to go back-to-back since Yovani Gallardo in 2010-14.
Twins: RHP Kenta Maeda . The Twins announced on March 14 that Maeda will start on April 1 against the Brewers, per MLB.com's Bill Ladson . Maeda will snap Jose Berrios' consecutive Opening Day starts streak at two. It will be the first Opening Day start of Maeda's career, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone given that he spent his first four seasons with the Dodgers.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom . It should come as a surprise to no one that deGrom will be starting his third consecutive Opening Day. The Mets made it official on March 6, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo . DeGrom is the first Mets starter to start three Game 1s in a row since Johan Santana did it in 2008-10. The Mets will open their season against the Nationals on April 1.
Yankees: The Yankees haven't announced who will start their April 1 game against the Blue Jays. There's every reason to believe it'll be Gerrit Cole for the second year in a row. Looking ahead, Cole would need to start five additional Opening Days after this one to tie Mel Stottlemyer, Whitey Ford, and Ron Guidry for the most in franchise history. That's worth knowing given that Cole is under contract through the 2028 season.
Athletics: The Athletics haven't announced who will start their April 1 opener against the Astros. Chris Bassitt, Jesus Luzardo, and Frankie Montas would seem to be the leading candidates. Montas started last Opening Day for the Athletics.
Phillies: The Phillies haven't named their starter for their April 1 contest against the Braves. Manager Joe Girardi would seem to be choosing between Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, with Nola having the benefit of inertia as he's started each of the last three openers. Should Nola earn a fourth consecutive nod, he would become the first Phillies hurler to do so since Steve Carlton in the 80s. (Carlton started 10 in a row.)
Pirates: The Pirates haven't announced who will start their April 1 opener against the Cubs. Pittsburgh has turned to Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon the past two years, but both of them were traded over the winter. That leaves Steven Brault, Chad Kuhl, Tyler Anderson, Mitch Keller, and JT Brubaker as the likeliest options. Of those, Keller would seem to have the best odds of making a second Opening Day start for the Buccos, which is something that not even Gerrit Cole accomplished during his time in Pittsburgh.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty . The Cardinals wasted no time anointing Flaherty as their Opening Day starter against the Reds, giving him that tag back in February. As a result, Flaherty will be making his second consecutive Game 1 start. It tracks that he could well make a third Opening Day start in a row; if so, he'd join Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Matt Morris as the only Cardinals to accomplish that feat since the last round of expansion.
Padres: The Padres have not yet announced a starter for their April 1 opener versus the Diamondbacks. In all likelihood, manager Jayce Tingler will choose between offseason acquisitions Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. Either way, it's a step up for the Padres, who have tabbed Chris Paddack, Eric Lauer, Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, and Tyson Ross as their Opening Day starters over the past five years.
Giants: The Giants haven't named a starter for their April 1 game against the Mariners. Kevin Gausman's efforts last season likely earned him the designation, though it's possible San Francisco turns instead to Johnny Cueto for a second year in a row.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales . Seattle manager Scott Servais announced in February that Gonzales would be the Game 1 starter, making him the first pitcher this year to receive that designation, per MLB.com . For Gonzales, it'll mark his third consecutive Opening Day start, putting him one off from joining Jamie Moyer, Randy Johnson, and Felix Hernandez as the lone Mariners to notch at least four with Seattle.
Rays: The Rays haven't announced who will start their April 1 opener against the Marlins. Tyler Glasnow would seem to be the favorite. Glasnow would be the fourth different Opening Day starter for Tampa Bay in the last three years, joining Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Chris Archer (now back with the Rays after a stay in Pittsburgh). Archer and James Shields are the only pitchers in Rays history to make more than three Opening Day starts for the franchise.
Rangers: RHP Kyle Gibson . The Rangers announced on March 16 that right-hander Kyle Gibson will make the Opening Day start against the Royals, per Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram . This will mark Gibson's first career Game 1 start. The Rangers haven't had a pitcher start consecutive Opening Days for them since Kevin Millwood did it from 2006-09.
Blue Jays: The Blue Jays haven't named a starter for their April 1 game against the Yankees. Hyun-Jin Ryu would seem to be a gimme for that honor, however, giving him two Opening Day starts in a row. Ryu would be the fourth Blue Jays pitcher to start multiple Game 1s since 1998, joining Roy Halladay, Ricky Romero, and R.A. Dickey.
Nationals: The Nationals haven't announced who will start their April 1 contest against the Mets. Max Scherzer would seem to be the top contender. If that proves to be correct, it'll be Scherzer's fourth Opening Day start in a row, and his sixth in seven years.
MLB Opening Day full schedule
|Photo: National Day|
Thursday, April 1
|1:00p||Blue Jays – Yankees||ESPN|
|4:00p||Dodgers – Rockies||ESPN|
|7:00p||Mets – Nationals||ESPN|
|10:00p||Astros – Athletics||ESPN|
Upcoming 2021 MLB Calendar
April 1: Opening Day
April 15: Jackie Robinson Day
June 2: Lou Gehrig Day
July 11-13: MLB Draft
July 13: All-Star Game
July 25: Hall of Fame induction ceremony
How to watch 2021 MLB Opening Day
ESPN will provide extensive Opening Day coverage that begins with George Springer making his Toronto Blue Jays debut against the host New York Yankees (1:05 p.m. ET), followed by the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers visiting their NL West-rival Colorado Rockies (4:10 p.m. ET/1:10 pm. PT). Francisco Lindor will make his New York Mets debut against the host Washington Nationals (7:09 p.m. ET), and ESPN’s quadrupleheader will conclude with the 2020 AL MVP José Abreu and the Chicago White Sox visiting Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels (10:05 p.m. ET/7:05 p.m. PT). ESPN will broadcast an additional seven games during the first week of the season following traditional Opening Day, including its season premiere of “Sunday Night Baseball” on Sunday, April 4 featuring the Angels and White Sox (8:37 p.m. ET/5:37 p.m. PT).
FOX will begin its 2021 national coverage on Saturday, April 3 when Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies host 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves at 4:05 p.m. (ET) on FS1, followed by the Dodgers at Colorado at 8:10 p.m. (ET)/5:10 p.m. (PT) on FS1. MLB on TBS live game coverage will return on Sunday, June 20 and will continue each Sunday through the end of the regular season.
MLB Network will have extensive coverage of Opening Day on Thursday, April 1, featuring its signature live look-ins at games in progress on MLB Tonight starting at 1:00 p.m. (ET). MLB Network’s comprehensive regular-season studio programming lineup will return on Friday, April 2nd with MLB Central, High Heat with Christopher Russo, The Rundown, MLB Now, Intentional Talk, MLB Tonight and Quick Pitch featuring previews, highlights, analysis and interviews.
**READ MORE: How to Watch 2021 ACC Basketball Tournamen: Schedule, Bracket, TV Channels, Live Streams
The regular season, All-Star Game and postseason
Until last year, there were 162 games in an MLB season. The plan is for that to be true again in 2021, with the league sticking to its previously released schedule, which runs from April 1 through October 3. Unlike during the abbreviated 2020 campaign, clubs will not be limited to playing opponents from the same region (West, Central, East).
Teams are in the process of announcing their plans regarding attendance for regular season games, something that depends on local policies and team rules. For example, the Phillies announced on March 2 that based on regulations in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, 8,800 fans will be allowed in to Citizens Bank Park for each of the team's first 19 home games. Stay tuned to MLB.com and each club’s site for more details, as policies continue to evolve throughout the year.
The 2021 All-Star Game remains scheduled for July 13 at Atlanta’s Truist Park, as part of a baseball celebration that also will include, for the first time, the MLB Draft. The Braves had previously been chosen to host the 2020 All-Star Game, but that was canceled due to the pandemic. The Dodgers, previously scheduled to host this year’s event, will do so in 2022 instead.
The 2021 postseason schedule is not yet official. While the playoffs were expanded from 10 to 16 teams for 2020, that agreement was for one year only. The league and the players' union have not yet reached a new agreement regarding expanded playoffs for this year. In the absence of such a pact, the playoffs would revert to both the AL and NL fields featuring five teams and beginning with a win-or-go-home Wild Card Game.
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