Cardinals-Dodgers Opening Day starting pitchers: Mikolas vs. Glasnow

March 26th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- In an offseason where starting pitching was at a premium, the Dodgers and Cardinals were among the most active shoppers with hopes of fortifying their respective rotations for the 2024 season.

Based on their aggressive offseasons this winter, both teams are expecting to compete for a National League pennant this season. Their pursuit of that goal will start on Thursday at Dodger Stadium.

For the Cardinals, Sonny Gray, who signed a three-year, $75 million free-agent contract with the Cardinals, was scheduled to be the Cardinals Opening Day starter, but those plans changed when he strained his right hamstring on March 4.

As for Los Angeles, the Dodgers got a good glimpse of the talent that oozes from their Opening Day starter in Seoul, South Korea, as Tyler Glasnow made his team debut against the Padres. He’ll get the nod again, this time for the domestic Opening Day.

RHP Miles Mikolas
Previous Opening Day starts: 2019, 2023
2023 Season: 9-13, 4.78 ERA, MLB-most 35 starts

Mikolas, who is hoping to bounce back from a subpar 2023 season, was the logical choice for the Opening Day start when Gray was scratched after being brought along slowly following his hamstring injury. Mikolas, 35, has been the Cardinals' most effective and consistent pitcher this spring, going 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in five starts.

Mikolas is no stranger to being tabbed as an Opening Day starter, filling in for injured starters on Opening Day in 2019 and 2023. Neither of those outings went particularly well, with Mikolas surrendering five earned runs at Milwaukee in 2019 and five earned runs last March in St. Louis when the Blue Jays reached him for 10 hits.

“I think I’ve had two Opening Days before -- not so great -- but I think the third time’s the charm,” Mikolas said. “That’s the game that you want and all those games in L.A. are going to be great. All the hoopla with all their additions, that’s why I play. I want the big games. In Los Angeles, I want to hear the boos and the roar of the crowd. It’s going to be an exciting atmosphere and I’m going to do my best to keep the butterflies and jitters at bay and do my job.”

Mikolas led all of baseball last season with 35 starts, but he also led the Majors in hits surrendered (226). A major issue for Mikolas was throwing far too many strikes, especially when ahead with two strikes in the count. Foes hit an MLB-best .225 last season after getting two strikes against Mikolas.

RHP Tyler Glasnow
Previous Opening Day starts: 2021 with Tampa Bay, 2024 with Los Angeles
2023 Season: 10-7, 3.53 ERA, 162 strikeouts in 120 innings

Glasnow was one of the Dodgers’ big acquisitions during their $1 billion spending spree this winter, and for good reason. When healthy, he has been one of the most dominant right-handers in the sport. The one concern with Glasnow, however, has been his durability.

Glasnow has not pitched more than 120 innings in a season during his career, but the Dodgers are confident his injury history is in the past. His ability when he’s on the mound was so attractive to the Dodgers that they immediately locked up the right-hander to a five-year extension after landing him in an offseason trade from the Rays.

In Seoul, Glasnow got the start on Opening Day for the Dodgers, allowing two runs and striking out three over five innings. Given how the schedule played out, Glasnow will also get the ball for the domestic Opening Day against the Cardinals, hoping to build off his first start with the Dodgers.