On Thursday, March 29, Major League Baseball will begin Opening Day earlier than ever, and for the first time since the league expanded to 30 teams in 1998, every team will play on the same day. As the excitement of a new season overcomes every baseball fan, let’s take a look at all 30 Opening Day starters.
American League East
Opening Day Starter: Dylan Bundy
The former Orioles’ 1st round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft has overcome a slew of injuries and inconsistencies in order to get to where he is now. Opening Day 2018 will be Dylan Bundy’s first career Opening Day start. Last season was Bundy’s first full year in the O’s starting rotation, and the 25-year-old was Baltimore’s most reliable starter in 2017, posting a 4.24 ERA in 28 starts. At the young age of 25, many more Opening Day starts are likely to follow.
Boston Red Sox
Opening Day Starter: Chris Sale
Chris Sale will be starting his first Opening Day game with the Boston Red Sox in 2018 after previously starting three for the Chicago White Sox. In Sale’s 22 career innings on Opening Day, Sale has amassed 23 strikeouts. In 2017, Sale was elected to his 6th consecutive All-Star Game en route to his sixth straight top-six finish in the AL CY Young Award voting. Chris Sale will likely continue his usual dominance and is one of the favorites to win the American League CY Young Award in 2018.
New York Yankees
Opening Day Starter: Luis Severino
New manager Aaron Boone selected Luis Severino to start Opening Day for the New York Yankees. Severino will be the first Dominican pitcher to ever start an Opening Day for the Yankees. Severino established himself as the Yankees’ most reliable starter in 2017. The 24-year-old made 31 starts and posted 14 wins with an ERA of 2.98. Severino also finished third in the AL CY Young Award in 2017 and will be a big factor in the Yankees 2018 Championship run.
Tampa Bay Rays
Opening Day Starter: Chris Archer
The now rebuilding Rays will utilize a 4-man rotation in 2018 Archer will make his 4th Opening Day Start with Tampa Bay. While many thought that Archer would not be pitching with the Rays in 2018 after the recent firesale that resulted in Evan Longoria being sent to the Giants among others, he is still here and is possibly starting his final Opening Day with Tampa. Archer’s 2018 Opening Day start will tie him with James Sheild for the most in Rays’ franchise history.
Toronto Blue Jays
Opening Day Starter: J.A. Happ
J.A. Happ will be the Blue Jays’ fifth Opening Day starter in the last 5-years. Marcus Stroman got a late start this Spring Training and his duty as Opening Day starter will now be passed on to Happ. Happ is no slouch himself after posting 30 wins and a 3.33 the last two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox
Opening Day Starter: James Sheilds
After starting Opening Day 4-times for the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-times for the Kansas City Royals, and once for the San Diego Padres, Sheilds will make his 8th career Opening Day start with the Chicago White Sox. Even though Sheilds has put up a mediocre 5.60 ERA over the past two seasons, the Sox are not quite ready to turn the Opening Day starting job to one of their young stud pitchers.
Opening Day Starter: Corey Kluber
Corey Kluber is coming off of his second American League CY Young Award in the last 4-years and was the obvious choice to start Opening Day for Cleveland. Kluber was truly on another level in 2017, posting an 18-4 win-loss record with a 2.25 ERA. While Kluber did have a rough patch in the 2017 Postseason, he will continue to dominate in 2018 and will continue to be a perennial CY Young Award candidate.
Opening Day Starter: Jordan Zimmerman
With Justin Verlander gone, Detroit fans will not have a whole lot to look forward to in 2018 as far as their pitching staff goes. Their new ace, Jordan Zimmerman, posted a horrendous 6.08 ERA in 2017 and has some work to do to make his gargantuan contract at all worth it. This will be Zimmerman’s first career Opening Day start of his career.
Kansas City Royals
Opening Day Starter: Danny Duffy
Danny Duffy will start his second consecutive Opening Day for the Kansas City Royals in 2018. Duffy has suffered from injuries as of late and even left his final Spring Training start with shoulder stiffness, but it is not serious enough for Duffy to miss Opening Day. Danny Duffy put up adequate numbers in 2017 with a 9-10 win-loss record and a 3.81 ERA over the course of 24 starts.
Opening Day Starter: Jake Odorizzi
The Minnesota Twins made one of their weaknesses in 2017 one of their strengths in 2018 by acquiring Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn to help out the pitching staff. Jake Odorizzi received the nod over Lynn and upstart pitcher Jose Berrios to start Opening Day. Opening Day will be the first game Odorizzi has ever pitched in a Twins uniform. Odorizzi has posted a 3.83 ERA over the past six seasons in the Major Leagues.
American League West
Opening Day Starter: Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander had started 10 of the last 11 Opening Days for the Detroit Tigers before being traded to the World Series Champion Houston Astros. The 35-year-old will be making his first career Opening Day start in an Astros uniform and is looking like a top American League CY Young Award contender in 2018. Verlander’s fantastic pitching in the 2017 Postseason likely gave him the edge over Dallas Keuchel and the newly acquired Gerrit Cole to start Opening Day.
Los Angeles Angels
Opening Day Starter: Garrett Richards
Garrett Richards has not pitched on Opening Day since 2016, due to a glut of injuries that caused him to miss all but 12 starts in that time period. Now that Richards is healthy, he is ready to lead the Angels pitching staff in 2018. Shohei Ohtani was acquired by the Halos, but after posting a 27.00 ERA in Spring Training, the “Japanese Babe Ruth” will have to wait till Sunday for his first Major League start.
Opening Day Starter: Kendall Graveman
Kendall Graveman will replace Sonny Gray (who was traded to the Yankees at the deadline in 2017) as the ace of the Oakland A’s. Graveman was plagued by injuries in 2017 and was limited to just 19 games and 105.1 innings pitched. Despite his lack of play in 2017, Graveman is very consistent when healthy and may be primed for a breakout season in 2018.
Opening Day Starter: Felix Hernandez
King Felix Hernandez will start his 10th consecutive Opening Day with the Seattle Mariners and his 11th overall which are both tops for current pitchers. Hernandez is creeping closer and closer to the record for most consecutive Opening Day starts with the same team. That record is held by Robin Roberts. Roberts started 12 Opening Days in a row for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1950-1961. Felix would be even closer to reaching it if not for Erik Bedard’s Opening Day start for Seattle in 2008.
Opening Day Starter: Cole Hamels
Cole Hamels will get the nod to pitch on Opening Day for the Rangers. This upcoming Opening Day will mark Hamels’ fourth Opening Day start, but only his second with the Texas Rangers. This start will break a 9-year run of nine different Opening Day starters for Texas which just shows how unreliable their pitching staff has been as of late.
National League East
Opening Day Starter: Julio Teheran
Julio Teheran will start his 5th consecutive Opening Day with the Braves, which will actually put him one ahead of Braves Hall of Famers Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. Teheran was not expected to be on the Braves Opening Day roster as there was a great deal of speculation that he would be traded this Offseason. Fortunately, for Atlanta, they will be able to start their 2018 season off with a 2-time All-Star on the mound.
Opening Day Starter: Jose Urena
After Derek Jeter decided to get rid of every single player with any value this offseason, Don Mattingly had very limited options where Opening Day starters are concerned. Jose Urena was the obvious choice to start the Marlins’ season off after finishing his breakout season in 2017 with 14 wins and a 3.82 ERA.
New York Mets
Opening Day Starter: Noah Syndergaard
Noah Syndergaard suffered a partially torn lat muscle that limited him to just 7 starts in 2017, and is now back at full health and is ready to dominate. This Spring Training, Syndergaard looked like the ace everyone had expected him to be and “Thor” was the easy pick to start the Mets season off on a high note. If the Mets expect to find themselves playing October baseball, Syndergaard is going to be a big part of that.
Opening Day Starter: Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola was named the Phillies Opening Day starter at the beginning of the 2018 season and even though the Phillies signed Jake Arrieta to a 3-year, $75 Million deal in mid-March, it was too late for Gabe Kapler to change. Nola will become the youngest Opening Day starter since Dennis Bennett in 1964.
Opening Day Starter: Max Scherzer
From the years 2015–2017, Scherzer accumulated the most innings, strikeouts, and pitching WAR of any pitcher in the Major Leagues during that time period and while he is getting older, Scherzer is showing no signs of regression. Scherzer won his third career CY Young Award in 2017 and appears primed to win a second. Over the past six years, Washington’s Opening Day starter has either been Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg and since both are signed through 2022 this streak is most likely going to continue for a long time.
National League Central
Opening Day Starter: Jon Lester
2018 Opening Day will be Jon Lester’s 7th career Opening Day start and his 3rd with the Cubs. 2017 was not a great season for Lester who put up a 4.33 ERA in 32 starts after finishing 2016 with an impressive 19 wins and a 2.44 ERA. With the loss of Jake Arrieta and the acquisition of Yu Darvish, many thought that Darvish would be starting the season for Chicago, but Joe Maddon decided to go with Lester to kick off the season.
Opening Day Starter: Homer Bailey
After 12 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds Homer Bailey will finally get his first Opening Day nod. Bailey has been limited to 26 starts over the past three seasons and has not pitched more than 145 innings in a season since 2014. Despite his lack of play as of late, Homer Bailey is the only veteran in the rebuilding Reds’ starting rotation.
Opening Day Starter: Chase Anderson
The Brewers were in the race for free agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, but after they signed deals with the Chicago Cubs and Philidelphia Phillies respectively, the Brewers have to settle on Chase Anderson to start their 2018 season on a good note. The 29-year-old established himself as the Brewers’ ace in 2017 after putting up a 2.74 ERA over 25 starts and 141.1 innings. Anderson will be the 5th different Brewers’ Opening Day starter in the last 5-years.
Opening Day Starter: Ivan Nova
With Gerrit Cole now pitching for the Houston Astros, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had limited options to start Opening Day in 2018, but eventually went with the 31-year-old Ivan Nova. Nova put up a 4.14 ERA in 187 innings for Pittsburgh in 2017 and was a 16 game winner with the New York Yankees in 2011.
St. Louis Cardinals
Opening Day Starter: Carlos Martinez
Carlos Martinez replaced Adam Wainwright as the Cardinals ace and will now start Opening Day for St. Louis to start the 2018 season. En route to being given his 2nd career All-Star nod in 2017, Martinez put up career highs in innings pitched with 205 and strikeouts with 217.
National League West
Opening Day Starter: Patrick Corbin
Zach Grenkie suffered a groin injury recently and has seen his velocity dip to the mid-80s and this was just enough to give Patrick Corbin the Opening Day nod. This will be Corbin’s first career Opening Day start. The left-handed 28-year-old posted a solid 14-13 with a 4.03 ERA in 2017.
Opening Day Starter: Jon Gray
While Gray is still not a true ace, he is the most consistent starting pitcher on the Colorado Rockies. Gray posted a 3.13 ERA while playing in Coors which is very impressive in itself, and the only thing that has held Gray back is his injuries. Gray is out to prove that he can keep up his fantastic pace up for an entire season as the Rockies push for a Wild Card spot.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Opening Day Starter: Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw was the obvious choice for the Dodgers to start Opening Day and it was not even close despite Los Angeles having a top of the line rotation. This will mark Kershaw’s 8th consecutive Opening Day start and after posting a 0.00 ERA this Spring, it is easy to see why. Kershaw won 18 games and finished second to Max Scherzer in the National League CY Young Award voting in 2017.
San Diego Padres
Opening Day Starter: Clayton Richard
While the Padres continue their search for an ace (and a decent pitching staff), Clayton Richard will get the Opening Day nod. The 34-year-old will make his first career Opening Day start and he will be the 6th different Padres’ Opening Day starter in the last 6-years. In 2017, Richard pitched 197 innings and posted 15 losses and a 4.79 ERA.
San Francisco Giants
Opening Day Starter: Ty Blach
The Giants’ original Opening Day starter, Madison Bumgarner, suffered a broken hand on a comebacker and his backup, Jeff Samardzija, was lost to a pectoral strain. The 27-year-old Ty Blach will take over as the Giants’ Opening Day starter after only making 26 career starts. Johnny Cueto was another option, but Bruce Bochy favored youth over experience in this situation.
Don’t forget to tune in and watch your favorite team play on Opening Day!