The Padres enter the 2023 season in a position they haven't found themselves in quite some time: a serious contender, perhaps even the favorite, in the National League West.
The Rockies, meanwhile, will be doing their best to turn that division, one of the most competitive in baseball, completely on its head.
“Opening Day has its own special place,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “Not only in San Diego but everywhere. The fact that we get to open at home, amongst our crowd, is very exciting to think about.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
First pitch is slated for 7:40 p.m. MT/6:40 p.m. PT, live on MLB.TV. Rockies fans can watch on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. Padres fans can watch on Bally Sports San Diego.
What are the lineups?
Who are the starting pitchers?
Rockies: Márquez is 5-2 with a 3.71 ERA in nine games (eight starts) at Petco Park. He pitched seven innings of two-run ball in a victory over San Diego last June.
Padres: Snell posted a 2.19 ERA in the second half last season, striking out 105 hitters in 78 innings. The 30-year-old is entering his final season before free agency and earned the Opening Day nod with Joe Musgrove injured and Yu Darvish pushed to the back of the rotation after his irregular schedule at the World Baseball Classic.
Padres: Josh Hader has the ninth. But how do the Padres get the ball to him? Drew Pomeranz and Robert Suarez are slated to open the season on the injured list. That leaves righty Luis García and lefty Tim Hill as the likeliest options to pitch the eighth. Nabil Crismatt and Steven Wilson could see high-leverage spots as well.
Any injuries of note?
Rockies: Already, Colorado has lost second baseman Brendan Rodgers (left shoulder), outfielder Sean Bouchard (left biceps) and lefty reliever Lucas Gilbreath (Tommy John surgery), with Rodgers and Bouchard nursing slim hopes of returning before the end of the season. Blackmon and Cron missed significant time with back problems late in camp, but both are expected to be ready for the opener.
Padres: Suarez, Pomeranz and Musgrove will open the season on the IL, but on the hitting side, the Padres are generally healthy. Soto (left oblique strain) and Nola (broken nose) dealt with injury scares in the final weeks of Spring Training. But both are expected to be available for the opener.
Who's hot and who's not?
Rockies: During camp, Bryant showed the damage his bat can cause when healthy, and Montero arrived with a more mature hitting approach and demonstrated the power his swing can generate. But Blackmon was hitting just .211 and Cron .172 before their injuries.
Padres: Grisham raked all spring, leading the team with four home runs and finishing with a flourish. Cronenworth batted .391/.451/.674 in the Cactus League. Soto was among the World Baseball Classic's best hitters. Meanwhile, Bogaerts struggled at the Classic and posted a .612 OPS in the Cactus League.
Anything else fans might want to know?
• Despite being division rivals, the Rockies have never opened a season against the Padres at Petco Park. These two teams last met on Opening Day in 2005 -- a 12-10 Rockies victory in which Clint Barmes launched a walk-off home run against Trevor Hoffman.
The only time the Rockies opened their season in San Diego came in 1999 at Qualcomm Stadium -- an 8-2 Colorado victory. The Padres have never beaten the Rockies on Opening Day.
• Fitting, perhaps, that Profar might end up being the first hitter of the Padres' 2023 season. He opted out of his contract with San Diego before signing with the Rockies this month. Profar spent three seasons in San Diego and was the team's primary leadoff man last year.
Profar has spent at least 30 games hitting in each batting-order position in his career, but nowhere more than leadoff, where he owns a .256/.321/.402 slash line in 144 career games.
• The Padres have won consecutive season series against the Rockies -- 11-8 in 2022 and 10-9 in '21. The two NL West rivals will play only 13 times in '23, with more balanced schedules meaning divisional opponents will play four series against each other instead of six.