MLB Opening Day 2021: Schedule, Full list of Pitchers getting Game 1 nods
MLB navigated the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, delivering a precarious-yet-successful 60-game sprint which culminated in the Dodgers winning their first World Series since 1988.
MLB (and everyone else) is hoping for a better season in 2021, with a full 162-game slate scheduled to kick off in just over a week's time, this time with a different level of anxiety; with the CBA expiring at the end of the season, there's a war brewing between the league and the MLBPA, leading many to believe a work stoppage is on the horizon. So, there's that.
The MLB offseason was slow, lumbering and, largely, boring, with few big-time moves made: Trevor Bauer heads west to reinforce the Dodger rotation, the Mets swung a trade for super-smiley superstar Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado ditches purple and silver for Cardinals red, landing in St. Louis in a trade.
Enjoy the baseball this year, folks, because who knows what could happen?
Here's everything to know about Opening Day in 2021, including the full TV schedule with start times for all 30 teams.
When is MLB Opening Day 2021?
Date: Thursday, April 1
MLB hopes that all 30 teams will be able to take the field on April 1, which would be the first time all 30 squads started on the same day since 1968. It's the fourth consecutive year that MLB has scheduled all 30 teams to start on the same day, but rainouts have rescheduled games in prior seasons.
The first game of the day features Aaron Judge and the Yankees vs. the Blue Jays and George Springer, who is donning new duds after joining the Jays on a big deal this offseason.
Full list of pitchers getting Game 1 nods
Before we get to the good stuff, here is the all-time Opening Day start leaderboard:
Tom Seaver: 16 career Opening Day starts
Steve Carlton: 14
Jack Morris: 14
Randy Johnson: 14
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.
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.
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.
LHP John Means. No surprise here. Means had an All-Star season in 2019 and 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.
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez. Manager Alex Cora announced 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.
RHP Kyle Hendricks. This was a formality once Yu Darvish was traded. The April 1 contest against the Pirates will be the second straight Opening Day start for Hendricks, according to The Athletic. Prior to Hendricks, Jon Lester had started the previous three season-openers for the North Siders.
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.
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.
LHP Matthew Boyd. New manager A.J. Hinch confirmed Body will start the season-opener, according to the Detroit Free Press. It will be his second consecutive Opening Day start. The Tigers have had only one pitcher start three consecutive Game 1s since 1998's expansion. That individual? You guessed it, Justin Verlander.
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 Buehrle (twice), Jack McDowell, Wilbur Wood, and Billy Pierce. The White Sox open the season on April 1 with a visit to the Angels.
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.
RHP Brad Keller. Keller will be Kansas City's Opening Day starter for the second time in three years, according to MLB.com's Anne Rogers . Danny Duffy and Mike Minor were the other top candidates. Duffy started Opening Day in 2017, 2018, and 2020. Only Dennis Leonard (four) and Kevin Appier (seven) have more season-opener starts in franchise history.
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.
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.
RHP Brandon Woodruff. Once again, Woodruff will get the ball on Opening Day, according to MLB.com . He will be the first Brewers starter to start back-to-back season-openers since Yovani Gallardo in 2010-14, ending a stretch of six different Opening Day starters in six years.
RHP Aaron Nola. The Phillies have named Nola as the Opening Day starter on April 1 against the Braves. Zack Wheeler will get the nod in the second game of the season, per manager Joe Girardi. Nola becomes the first Phillies hurler to start four consecutive opening days since Steve Carlton in the 80s. (Carlton started 10 in a row.)
|Photo: CBS Sports|
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.
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.
RHP Gerrit Cole. Although manager Aaron Boone has not come and explicitly said Cole will start Opening Day, he said he expects Gary Sanchez to catch him on Opening Day, and that's more than enough confirmation for us. Looking ahead, Cole would need to start five additional Opening Days after this one to tie Mel Stottlemyre, 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.
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.
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.
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.
RHP Luis Castillo. With Sonny Gray dealing with a back injury, Castillo became the obvious pick to start Opening Day for the Reds. This will be his second career Opening Day start, having previously kicked off the 2019 campaign. The Reds have not had a pitcher making consecutive Opening Day starter since Johnny Cueto from 2012-15.
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.
RHP Sandy Alcantara. This will be Alcantara's second straight Opening Day start, per MLB.com . The right-hander has been rock steady since arriving in Miami as part of the Marcell Ozuna trade with the Cardinals. Alcantara owns a 3.69 ERA in 273 1/3 innings with the Marlins and was an All-Star in 2019. Jose Urena was the last pitcher to start Opening Day for the Marlins prior to
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.
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.
RHP Tyler Glasnow. After trading Blake Snell and letting Charlie Morton leave as a free agent, Glasnow was the obvious candidate to get the Opening Day nod, and manager Kevin Cash and has since made it official . Glasnow will be the fourth different Opening Day starter for Tampa Bay in the last three years, joining 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.
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.
RHP Max Scherzer. Make it four consecutive Opening Day starts for Scherzer, and six Opening Day starts in the last seven years. Manager Dave Martinez confirmed it will indeed be Scherzer, reports MLB.com. The last National to start consecutive Opening Days prior to Scherzer was (who else?) Stephen Strasburg, who started three straight from 2012-14
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.
MLB Opening Day schedule
The slate for Opening Day features all 30 squads:
Game First pitch (ET)
Yankees vs. Blue Jays 1:05 p.m.
Tigers vs. Indians 1:10 p.m.
Red Sox vs. Orioles 2:10 p.m.
Brewers vs. Twins 2:10 p.m.
Cubs vs. Pirates 2:20 p.m.
Phillies vs. Braves 3:05 p.m.
Marlins vs. Rays 4:10 p.m.
Reds vs. Cardinals 4:10 p.m.
Rockies vs. Dodgers 4:10 p.m.
Padres vs. Diamondbacks 4:10 p.m.
Royals vs. Rangers 4:10 p.m.
Nationals vs. Mets 7:09 p.m.
Angels vs. White Sox 10:05 p.m.
Athletics vs. Astros 10:07 p.m.
Mariners vs. Giants 10:10 p.m.
MLB Opening Day 2021: TV Schedule
Major League Baseball has officially announced its national broadcast schedule on ESPN for Opening Day 2021, beginning with the New York Yankees hosting the Toronto Blue Jays on April 1.
Per ESPN.com, the Blue Jays-Yankees game at 1 p.m. ET will be followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers kicking off the defense of their World Series title at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies at 4 p.m. ET.
A National League East showdown between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals (7 p.m. ET), followed by the Houston Astros take on the Oakland Athletics (10 p.m. ET) will wrap up the first day of MLB's regular season.
In addition to its Opening Day coverage, ESPN will televise a total of 11 games through April 6. Other highlights of the network's schedule include the final game of a three-game series between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, April 4 at 1:05 p.m. ET.
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