Opening Day 2019 is fewer than three weeks away, but regular-season baseball is even closer than that: the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics will play a two-game set in Tokyo, Japan on March 20-21 that will serve as the official start to the new season.
Over the last couple days, the Mariners and Athletics have each announced their starting pitchers for those games.
Scott Servais makes it official. Marco Gonzales will start March 20 game against A’s in Tokyo, ending Felix Hernandez’s streak of 10 straight Opening Day starts. Yusei Kikuchi will pitch second game in Tokyo.— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) March 9, 2019
The most notable aspect of either decision lies on Seattle's side. Felix Hernandez's streak of Opening Day starts won't be extended to 11. Rather, the Mariners will roll with Marco Gonzales in Game 1 and Yusei Kikuchi in Game 2. Kikuchi will be making his major-league debut, having joined the Mariners over the winter by way of the Saitama Seibu Lions.
Fiers named Opening Day starter in Japan. Followed by Estrada.— Julian McWilliams (@JulianMack105) March 9, 2019
As for the A's, they'll begin with Mike Fiers before handing the ball to Marco Estrada in Game 2. Fiers finished last season in Oakland, and later re-signed with the Athletics after being non-tendered. Estrada, meanwhile, is a new addition.
Both squads will be permitted a 28-man roster for the two games. Ichiro Suzuki is expected to partake for the Mariners. These contests could represent the end of his big-league career.