Major League Baseball made its return Thursday, as 14 of the league's 30 teams played their Opening Day games. The Cubs, Royals, Cardinals, Reds, Mets, Astros and D-Backs got off to winning ways to start the season, and you can find takeaways from Thursday's action here. MLB's other 16 teams are set to get started on Friday, with Yankees-Red Sox, Phillies-A's, Rockies-Dodgers and Blue Jays-Rangers among the matchups on Friday's Opening Day schedule.
Friday's schedule will have more of a traditional Opening Day feel, with 26 teams in action.
For the first time ever in 2022, there will be a 12-team playoff field, the largest postseason field ever in a full season. In theory, at least, that should mean more teams than ever realistically have a chance at winning the pennant heading into Opening Day.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the 2022 Opening Day schedule.
Friday's MLB schedule
*Denotes Opening Day matchup // all times Eastern
- *Yankees vs. Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
- *Tigers vs. White Sox, 1:10 p.m.
- Cubs vs. Brewers, 2:20 p.m.
- *Phillies vs. Athletics, 3:05 p.m.
- *Rays vs. Orioles, 3:10 p.m.
- *Twins vs. Mariners, 4:10 p.m.
- *Rockies vs. Dodgers, 4:10 p.m.
- *Giants vs. Marlins, 4:35 p.m.
- Nationals vs. Mets, 7:05 p.m.
- *Blue Jays vs. Rangers, 7:07 p.m.
- Braves vs. Reds, 7:20 p.m.
- Angels vs. Astros, 9:38 p.m.
- D-Backs vs. Padres, 9:40 p.m.
Opening Day also brings some terrific, ace vs. ace pitching matchups. The Opening Day starter role is coveted among starting pitchers and has been for decades. By no means does it really define anything predictive moving forward, but it's an honor. Here's the all-time leaderboard for Opening Day starts:
- Tom Seaver: 16
- Steve Carlton: 14
Jack Morris: 14
Randy Johnson: 14
Walter Johnson: 14
And now here's who will get the ball for their teams to start 2022 on Friday.
2022 Opening Day starting pitcher tracker
|For the third straight season, RHP Nathan Eovaldi gets the nod for the Red Sox. The decision was coming down to him or lefty Chris Sale, but with the news that Sale had a stress fracture in his rib cage, the decision for manager Alex Cora became a no-brainer and he made the announcement on March 16. Eovaldi finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting in 2021 after going 11-9 with a 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 195 strikeouts in 182 1/3 innings. The Red Sox open the season on the road against the Yankees.|
|Free agent addition LHP Eduardo Rodriguez will start the season opener for the Tigers. He signed a five-year, $77 million contract with Detroit prior to the lockout . Rodriguez threw 157 2/3 innings with a 4.74 ERA with the Red Sox last season. This will be his first career Opening Day start. One way or another, the Tigers were going to have a new Opening Day starter this year after non-tendering Matthew Boyd, who started their 2020 and 2021 season openers. Detroit begins the season at home against the White Sox.|
|Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Thursday, March 24 that Walker Buehler will be his Opening Day starter. This is Buehler's first such start in his career and he's only the fourth Dodgers Opening Day starter since 2010. Clayton Kershaw has gotten the task nine times, including in 2021, with Hyun-Jin Ryu going in 2019 and Dustin May in 2020. Buehler, 27, finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting last season when he was 16-4 with a 2.47 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 212 strikeouts in 207 2/3 innings. He has grown into the role of staff ace in L.A. and this start gives it the look of an official coronation.|
|Aaron Nola gets the nod for Joe Girardi's Phillies on Opening Day. For Nola, this marks his fifth straight Opening Day start, which is the longest streak by any Phillies pitcher since Hall of Famer Steve Carlton answered the bell 10 times in a row. Nola, 28, is coming off a 2021 season in which he pitched to a 4.63 ERA in 180 2/3 innings. He's a strong rebound candidate in 2022, given his strong pre-2021 record of performance and impressive underlying indicators.|
|Just over a week to the opener, the Rays named Shane McClanahan their Game 1 starter. The southpaw made his regular-season MLB debut last year on April 29. In 25 starts, he went 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings. He'll look to continue his dominance over the Orioles, against whom McClanahan was 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts last year.|
|What a difference a year makes for Giants' Opening Day starter Logan Webb. He entered the 2021 season as a back-end starter not expected to move the needle much. He's now looking to post his second-straight ace-level season. Webb went 11-3 with a 3.03 ERA and served as the Giants' playoff ace (0.61 ERA in two starts) in the NLDS. He'll look to hold down the Marlins in San Francisco's Oracle Park Friday, April 8.|
|Fresh off signing a free agent contract to play outside Colorado for the first time in his MLB career, Jon Gray will be making his third Opening Day start. The Rangers newcomer was 8-12 with a 4.59 ERA for the Rockies last season, though his 4.22 FIP and 157 strikeouts in 149 innings seem to indicate he'll enjoy his escape from Denver. He faces a tall order on April 8, however, against the Blue Jays in Toronto.|
|As expected, $324 million man Gerrit Cole start Opening Day for the Yankees. It will be his third straight season opener. Last year Cole pitched to a 3.23 ERA in 181 1/3 innings, and finished second in the Cy Young voting. The Yankees begin the season at home against the rival Red Sox.|
|The Orioles will have John Means start on Opening Day. This will mark Means' second consecutive Opening Day start. Last year, he threw seven one-hit inning against the Red Sox in a victory.|
|The Blue Jays have named Jose Berrios as their Opening Day starter in what will mark his first full season with Toronto after coming over in a midseason trade from the Minnesota Twins. The Blue Jays signed Berrios to a long-term extension over the offseason.|
|In a bit of a surprise decision, right-hander Joe Ryan, who still has his rookie status intact, will start for the Twins on Opening Day. He's coming off a 2021 season in which he pitched to a 4.05 ERA and 6.00 K/BB ratio in five starts. Earlier this offseason, the Twins acquired Sonny Gray from the Reds, and it seemed likely that he'd get the first start of 2022.|
|As expected, reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray will start the season opener for the Mariners. He signed a five-year, $115 million contract over the winter. Ray led the American League in innings (193 1/3), ERA (2.84) ERA+ (154), and strikeouts (248) while with the Blue Jays last year. Lefty Marco Gonzales had started the last three Opening Days for Seattle. The Mariners begin the regular season in Minnesota.|
|With Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea traded, Frankie Montas will start Opening Day for the Athletics, unless of course they trade him within the next few days too. This will be his second career Opening Day start, joining 2020. The skeleton crew A's begin the season against the Phillies on April 8.|
|Armed with a brand new contract extension, Sandy Alcantara will make his third consecutive Opening Day start for Miami. Alcantara's three Opening Day starts will tie Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, and the late Jose Fernandez for the most in franchise history. The Marlins open the season in San Francisco on April 8.|
|Denver native Kyle Freeland will get the ball on Opening Day at Coors Field. German Marquez had started the last two Opening Days for Colorado. This will be Freeland's second career Opening Day start, joining 2019. The Rockies will host the Dodgers to kick off the regular season.|
|Lance Lynn's recent knee injury opened the door for Lucas Giolito to make his third consecutive Opening Day start. Giolito will be the first right-hander to start three straight season-openers for Chicago since Jack McDowell started four straight from 1991-94. The ChiSox will open the regular season in Detroit on April 8.|