Dodgers, Padres probables set for season-opening Seoul Series

March 18th, 2024

With the Dodgers and Padres opening the 2024 Major League season in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday, the probable pitching matchups for that series are officially set:

Major League Baseball announced the matchups, with both teams set to send their aces to the mound Wednesday and Thursday at 6 a.m. ET on ESPN in the sport’s first regular-season games to be played in Korea. For the Dodgers, the series offers the first look at two of their prized offseason acquisitions, Glasnow via a trade with Tampa Bay and Yamamoto via the largest free-agent pitching contract in the sport’s history.

Here’s a breakdown of the two matchups:

Game 1

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

To begin his first season with the Dodgers, Glasnow will be making his second career Opening Day start. Glasnow, one of the Dodgers’ big acquisitions during their $1 billion spending spree this winter, is fully healthy coming into the season after battling injuries the last few seasons. Because of that, the Dodgers believe the 6-foot-8 right-hander has the potential to be in the mix to win the National League Cy Young Award this season.

So far this spring, Glasnow has impressed his new teammates and coaches. In his second Cactus League start, Glasnow struck out five over three hitless innings. He will be the Dodgers’ co-ace this season, and it’ll all get going in Seoul.

“It means everything,” Glasnow said. “Just to sign here, that all being a reality feels crazy. Then when they told me I was the Opening Day starter, I definitely felt a lot of pride and excitement.”

Padres: RHP Yu Darvish
Previous Opening Day starts: 2017 with Texas, ‘21 and ‘22 with San Diego
2023 season: 8-10, 4.56 ERA, 141 strikeouts in 136 1/3 innings

Darvish is coming off a disappointing 2023 campaign that ended in August when he sustained a stress reaction in his elbow. He was shut down from throwing for a couple months, though no surgery would be required, and he was cleared for a full offseason throwing program in November.

Since then, Darvish said he adjusted his build-up to the season to account for the early start in Korea. It’s not the first time he’ll be making a mid-March flight across the Pacific. He did so just last year, pitching for Team Japan at the World Baseball Classic.

Now, Darvish will be pitching the sport’s first regular-season game in Korea. He’s never been.

“Obviously I’m very happy and honored about this,” Darvish said. “I’ve never been to Korea before, so that makes it even more special. … Just playing in Korea alone, that’s a big deal to me. But on top of that we’re facing a very good team that made some very good additions.”

Game 2

Dodgers: Yoshinobu Yamamoto
2023 season: 16-6, 1.21 ERA, 169 strikeouts in 164 innings (in Japan Pacific League)

Yamamoto dominated the offseason headlines this winter, becoming one of the highest-paid players in Major League history after signing a 12-year, $325 million deal with the Dodgers.

For years, scouts have highlighted Yamamoto’s talent and elite command. With the Orix Buffaloes in Nippon Professional Baseball, Yamamoto put together one of the most impressive careers overseas, winning three consecutive Eiji Sawamura Awards, NPB’s equivalent of a Cy Young. In seven seasons in Japan, Yamamoto went 70-29 with a 1.82 ERA. He won the pitching Triple Crown three times in the process.

Over the course of the season, Yamamoto will have to make adjustments to his first year in the Majors. The ball is different, and he will not be pitching once a week, as is the norm in Japan. But this spring, Yamamoto has impressed with a variety of pitches, particularly his signature splitter. His first start as a Dodger and in the Majors will come just a few hours away from where he dominated for years.

“I’m not a complete pitcher yet,” Yamamoto said through interpreter Yoshihiro Sonoda. “I’m very happy to start my career in the big leagues.”

Padres: Joe Musgrove
2023 season: 10-3, 3.05 ERA, 97 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings

Like Darvish, Musgrove’s 2023 season came to an early end due to injury. But Musgrove was in the midst of a dominant stretch when he went down with right shoulder capsule inflammation in late July. He’d reeled off a run of 12 starts with a 1.84 ERA.

Reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell hit the free-agent market in the offseason, leaving a healthy Darvish and Musgrove as the obvious favorites to start for the Padres in Seoul. Right-hander Michael King, who arrived in the Juan Soto trade with the Yankees, will be their No. 3 starter -- although, with a seven-day gap before their next regular-season game, the Padres might consider using King as a reliever against the Dodgers.