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Start(er) your engine: Aces set for openers

March 30, 2017

It's a feather in the cap for any big league starting pitcher: getting the ball to start Opening Day.For some well-known aces like Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, starting on Opening Day has become an expectation. For others, receiving their first Opening Day nod, it's an affirmation of

It's a feather in the cap for any big league starting pitcher: getting the ball to start Opening Day.
For some well-known aces like Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, starting on Opening Day has become an expectation. For others, receiving their first Opening Day nod, it's an affirmation of their rising status -- both in the league and on their very own squads.
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Opening Day is within sight. Here are the aces you will see take the mound Sunday and Monday as all 30 teams square off for game No. 1 of 162.
Angels: For the third straight year, the Angels will have a different pitcher start on Opening Day, with the team announcing on Thursday that Ricky Nolasco will get the coveted assignment for his third team, fourth time overall. More >
Astros:Dallas Keuchel says you can forget about the shoulder injuries that plagued him in 2016. The former American League Cy Young Award winner is raring to return to his elite form. More »

Athletics: With Sonny Gray out with a lat injury, Kendall Graveman gets the call for Bob Melvin's crew against the Angels at the Coliseum for the first time in his career.
Blue Jays:Marco Estrada worked through back injuries in 2016, but he's looking forward to a pain-free start to this season. More »
Braves: Atlanta is confident that a revitalized Julio Teheran can anchor its rotation. More »
Brewers: From Venezuela to Spain to Kansas to Mexico -- and everything in between -- Junior Guerra's long and winding road has led him to the Brewers' Opening Day slot. More »
Cardinals:Carlos Martinez has never been one to shy away from the spotlight, and that will continue with his Opening Night start against the Cubs. More »
Cubs:Jonathan Lester is set to do what no Cubs pitcher has done since Orval Overall in 1909: open a World Series title defense. More »

D-backs: Expectations are more muted for Zack Greinke in his second Opening Day start for Arizona, but the D-backs ace is eager to prove 2016 was an aberration. More »
Dodgers: Kershaw will have a new personal catcher on Opening Day. Other than that, it's business as usual for L.A.'s ace. More »
Giants:Madison Bumgarner is approaching Sunday's Opening Day start against the D-backs with minimal fuss. After all, San Francisco's ace delivers the same extreme amount of effort and focus whenever he pitches. More »
Indians:Corey Kluber is Cleveland's ace and obvious choice as its Opening Day starter, but he wants the Tribe's entire rotation to shed its egos for 2017. More »
Mariners: Hernandez is set to make his ninth consecutive Opening Day start, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues. But will this be the same up-and-down Hernandez we saw last year, or a revitalized ace looking to reclaim his throne? More »
Marlins:Edinson Volquez was given the name "Steady Eddie" for a reason; expect him to treat his Opening Day start just like any other outing. More »
Mets:Noah Syndergaard is not backing down from expectations of becoming the game's very best pitcher. More »
Nationals:Stephen Strasburg has been here before as he preps for his fourth career Opening Day assignment. But a complete, healthy season remains Strasburg's ultimate goal. More »

Orioles:Kevin Gausman wasn't even on the Orioles' 2016 Opening Day roster, but he hopes his prestigious '17 assignment is the first of many. More »
Padres: Armed with an improved slider, veteran Jhoulys Chacin will look to make the most of his second Opening Day assignment, and first since 2013. More »
Phillies:Jeremy Hellickson's Opening Day start marks the beginning of a crucial season as he looks to earn a multiyear contract. More »
Pirates: With the aid of a healthy offseason, Gerrit Cole looks to resume his ascension to the game's upper echelon. More »
Rangers: Health was not an issue for Yu Darvish this Spring Training. Neither was his impending contract negotiations. Instead, Texas' ace is focusing only on a smooth start to the 2017 season. More »
Rays:Chris Archer was dominant in his lone World Baseball Classic start, and he's been nearly unhittable since returning to Spring Training. All signs point to a quick start for Tampa Bay's ace. More »

Red Sox:Rick Porcello may not be the headliner in Boston's 2017 rotation, but an AL Cy Young Award-worthy '16 campaign has earned him the Opening Day nod. More »
Reds:Scott Feldman, set to make an Opening Day start for his third different club, is well aware of what the honor means. More »
Rockies: Buckle your seat belts: Jon Gray and his blazing high-90s fastball will be on the mound on Opening Day for Colorado. More »
Royals:Danny Duffy's role on the 2017 Royals is clear after several years of shuffling in and out of the bullpen: He's the Kansas City ace now. More »
Tigers: Verlander is focusing on a new and improved slider as he gears up for his ninth Opening Day start. More »
Twins:Ervin Santana is hoping for a bigger showcase after rain shortened his first career Opening Day start last year. More »

White Sox:Jose Quintana doesn't need a flashy win-loss record or accolades to explain why he's ascended to the top of Chicago's rotation. His work speaks for itself. More »
Yankees:Masahiro Tanaka was named New York's Opening Day starter about 10 minutes into the official opening of Yankees camp. All he's done since is put up a near-perfect Spring Training run. More »

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.