Opening Day is here at last.
Ever since the Dodgers’ Julio Urías put the finishing touch on the 2020 World Series last Oct. 27, we’ve been counting down to this day. Five months later, MLB is ready to go, with the traditional 162-game marathon beginning in festive fashion on Thursday.
With the Orioles-Red Sox game in Boston postponed by rain until Friday and the Mets-Nationals game postponed for at least two days because of ongoing contact tracing involving members of the Nationals organization, 26 teams are scheduled to be in action, with a jam-packed schedule that gets underway at 1:05 p.m. ET and concludes with three West Coast games starting just after 10 p.m.
So strap in, hydrate and get ready for a full day of baseball with this guide to all 13 matchups, listed in order of start time (all times ET). Every game is available live on MLB.TV (local and national blackout restrictions apply), and those that will be broadcast nationally on ESPN are noted below.
Blue Jays at Yankees (1:05 p.m., ESPN)
SP matchup: Hyun Jin Ryu (TOR) vs. Gerrit Cole (NYY) -- Cole can become the first pitcher in Yankees history to reach double-digit K’s in an opener.
History: The teams split their 10 games in 2020. They last faced off on Opening Day in 2018, a 6-1 Yankees win at Rogers Centre.
See this new face: Instead of suiting up in a Blue Jays uni for his debut, George Springer will open the season on the injured list due to an oblique injury, but Marcus Semien should be in the Toronto lineup at his new position (second base) after signing a one-year deal this offseason.
Note to know: Toronto or New York scored double-digit runs in six of the teams’ 10 matchups last year, which included Yankees victories of 12-1, 13-2 and 20-6. No team scored more runs against a single opponent in 2020 than the Yanks’ 77 vs. the Blue Jays.
Indians at Tigers (1:10 p.m.)
SP matchup: Shane Bieber (CLE) vs. Matthew Boyd (DET) -- Bieber’s 14 strikeouts against the Royals last July 24 tied for the second most in any Opening Day start.
History: Cleveland has dominated Detroit over the past five seasons, going 65-20 (.765), making it MLB’s most lopsided divisional matchup during that span.
See this new face: After Cleveland’s outfield produced a .575 OPS in 2020, former Twin Eddie Rosario could make a big impact as the new left fielder.
Note to know: Coming into this season, Miguel Cabrera is tied with the Angels’ Albert Pujols for the longest active streak of Opening Day starts (17), with the past 13 coming in Detroit.
Twins at Brewers (2:10 p.m.)
SP matchup: Kenta Maeda (MIN) vs. Brandon Woodruff (MIL) -- Woodruff is the Brewers’ first repeat Opening Day starter since Yovani Gallardo (2010-14).
History: These clubs haven’t faced off in an opener since 1992, when Milwaukee was still in the AL and Minnesota -- the defending World Series champs at the time -- notched a 4-2 road victory at County Stadium. Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett (MIN), Paul Molitor (MIL) and Robin Yount (MIL) all were in the lineup.
See this new face: If you like defensive upgrades, check out three new up-the-middle Gold Glovers in this one: Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons and Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong and right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Note to know: This will be the Brewers’ first Opening Day without Ryan Braun in the lineup since 2007, when Ben Sheets threw a complete game to beat the Dodgers.
Pirates at Cubs (2:20 p.m.)
SP matchup: Chad Kuhl (PIT) vs. Kyle Hendricks (CHC) -- Hendricks blanked the Brewers for nine innings last July 24, joining Clayton Kershaw (2013) as the only pitchers in the past 17 seasons with an Opening Day shutout.
History: The Cubs won six of 10 from the Pirates in 2020. The teams opened against each other three times from 2011-14 but haven’t done so since then.
See this new face: Chicago replaced Kyle Schwarber with Joc Pederson this offseason, and it hopes its new left fielder can spark what had become a stagnant offense.
Note to know: This will be Anthony Rizzo’s ninth straight Opening Day start at first base for the Cubs. Rizzo, Derrek Lee and Mark Grace have combined to start 27 of the team’s past 32 openers at that position heading into 2021.
Braves at Phillies (3:05 p.m.)
SP matchup: Max Fried (ATL) vs. Aaron Nola (PHI) -- Nola’s streak of four straight Opening Day starts will be the longest by a Phillies pitcher since Hall of Famer Steve Carlton had 10 in a row from 1977-86.
History: These teams split their 10 matchups in 2020. This is the third time in four years they will play each other on Opening Day, with Atlanta winning at home in 2018 and Philadelphia doing the same in ‘19.
See this new face: After the Phillies’ bullpen imploded in 2020, the club will hope for better results with a revamped group that now includes Archie Bradley, José Alvarado and Brandon Kintzler.
Note to know: This will be Freddie Freeman’s 11th straight Opening Day start at first base for the Braves. The only players in franchise history to start that many openers at one position are Hank Aaron (16, right field), Eddie Mathews (15, third base) and Chipper Jones (13, third base).
Dodgers at Rockies (4:10 p.m., ESPN)
SP matchup: Clayton Kershaw (LAD) vs. Germán Márquez (COL) -- Kershaw’s ninth Opening Day start would extend his franchise record and make him only the sixth MLB lefty to reach that career total (Steve Carlton, Randy Johnson, CC Sabathia, Warren Spahn and Mark Buehrle).
History: Despite being NL West foes, the Dodgers and Rockies have never previously met on Opening Day. L.A. has won nine of its past 10 season openers.
See this new face: The biggest outside addition to the Dodgers’ championship roster (Trevor Bauer) won’t pitch in this one, but Corey Knebel or Jimmy Nelson could come out of the bullpen.
Note to know: With Nolan Arenado traded to St. Louis, the Rockies will have a different Opening Day third baseman (Josh Fuentes) for the first time since 2013.
D-backs at Padres (4:10 p.m.)
SP matchup: Madison Bumgarner (ARI) vs. Yu Darvish (SD) -- Darvish will be San Diego’s ninth different Opening Day starter in the past nine seasons.
History: These teams also clashed in the 2020 opener at Petco Park, with San Diego winning, 7-2, and Bumgarner taking the loss. But Arizona came back to split the season series, 5-5.
See this new face: Darvish, coming off a runner-up finish for the NL Cy Young Award, leads a new-look Padres rotation that also features Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove.
Note to know: Padres phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. will become only the sixth shortstop in the past 60 years to make three Opening Day starts before turning 23 years old.
Cardinals at Reds (4:10 p.m.)
SP matchup: Jack Flaherty (STL) vs. Luis Castillo (CIN) -- After beating the Pirates last Opening Day (seven innings, two runs), Flaherty will become the first Cardinals pitcher to start multiple openers for the team at age 25 or younger since Joe Magrane from 1988-90.
History: St. Louis has won its season series against Cincinnati for nine consecutive years, including a 6-4 mark in 2020.
See this new face: Nolan Arenado will make his Cardinals debut at the hot corner after an offseason trade from Colorado, where he won eight Gold Glove Awards in as many seasons.
Note to know: Yadier Molina’s 17th career Opening Day start behind the plate would break a tie with Benito Santiago for second on the all-time list behind only Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (20).
Rangers at Royals (4:10 p.m.)
SP matchup: Kyle Gibson (TEX) vs. Brad Keller (KC) -- In 2019 against the White Sox, Keller joined Tim Belcher (1998) as the only Royals pitchers to go at least seven scoreless innings in an opener.
History: This is the first Opening Day matchup between the Rangers and Royals, who haven’t played each other since Texas took five of seven games in 2019.
See this new face: Left fielder Andrew Benintendi and first baseman Carlos Santana will look to upgrade the Royals’ offense while bouncing back from their own disappointing seasons.
Note to know: After trading Elvis Andrus to Oakland, Texas is poised to make Isiah Kiner-Falefa its first Opening Day shortstop other than Andrus since Michael Young in 2008.
Rays at Marlins (4:10 p.m.)
SP matchup: Tyler Glasnow (TB) vs. Sandy Alcantara (MIA) -- Alcantara held the Phillies to one earned run over 6 2/3 innings to win his first career Opening Day start last season.
History: The Rays are 9-1 against the Marlins over the past two seasons. This is their first Interleague opener and only their second opener against a team outside the AL East in the past 19 seasons.
See this new face: Adam Duvall, who hit three homers and drove in nine runs against the Marlins last Sept. 9 in Atlanta, will try to bring that sort of thump to the Miami lineup.
Note to know: Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier’s seventh career Opening Day start would put him third in franchise history, behind Evan Longoria (nine) and Carl Crawford (eight).
White Sox at Angels (10:05 p.m.)
SP matchup: Lucas Giolito (CWS) vs. Dylan Bundy (LAA) -- Giolito will be the first White Sox right-hander to start multiple Opening Days since Jaime Navarro in 1997-98.
History: These clubs have not met on Opening Day since 1992, when a White Sox lineup featuring Tim Raines, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas and Ozzie Guillen powered its way to a 10-4 win in Anaheim.
See this new face: Top prospect Andrew Vaughn, the third overall pick in the 2019 Draft, could make his MLB debut for Chicago in place of injured left fielder Eloy Jiménez.
Note to know: The Angels haven’t won their opener since beating the Reds in 2013. Their active streak of seven straight Opening Day losses -- including to Oakland in each of the past four years -- is MLB’s longest.
Astros at Athletics (10:07 p.m., ESPN)
SP matchup: Zack Greinke (HOU) vs. Chris Bassitt (OAK) -- Greinke has allowed seven earned runs in two of his four previous Opening Day starts (2016 and ’19 with Arizona).
History: These teams have never met on Opening Day, but they are well-acquainted now as AL West rivals. Oakland won seven of 10 from Houston in the 2020 regular season, but the Astros got the upper hand in the AL Division Series.
See this new face: It will be odd seeing shortstop Elvis Andrus in the Oakland lineup after he played against the A’s 194 times with the Rangers over the previous 12 years.
Note to know: Since losing every season opener from 2007-12, the Astros have won eight in a row -- MLB’s longest active streak.
Giants at Mariners (10:10 p.m.)
SP matchup: Kevin Gausman (SF) vs. Marco Gonzales (SEA) -- This is the third straight Opening Day start for Gonzales, who was the only Mariner to start the team’s opener in both 2019 and ’20.
History: This is the first time either team has begun the season with an Interleague game. The Giants swept four from the Mariners in 2020, outscoring them 31-13.
See this new face: They’re not new, but Giants catcher Buster Posey (elected not to play in 2020) and Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger (missed 2020 due to injury) will be welcome sights as they return to the fold.
Note to know: Posey (10th at catcher) and Brandon Crawford (10th at shortstop) now will both hold Giants franchise records for Opening Day starts at their positions. Brandon Belt’s 10th start at first base would tie Billy Terry for second behind Willie McCovey (13).