Spring has begun, which means one thing: baseball season is here. MLB Opening Day 2023 is on THURSDAY! The World Baseball Classic is over, spring training is finishing, and the 162-game marathon of a season starts in the blink of an eye. While we still have a few days before MLB Opening Day, some teams have already revealed who will be on the mound, and we have the TV schedule. So, at the GoldSheet, we took a dive into some of the marquee matchups for MLB Opening Day on March 30th.
Let’s take a look at some of the best pitching matchups for 2023 MLB Opening Day.
MLB Opening Day – Marquee Pitching Matchups
Philadelphia Phillies @ Texas Rangers
RHP Aaron Nola vs RHP Jacob deGrom
Neither of these pitchers needs much of an introduction. After spending his entire career in the NL East, Jacob deGrom headed to the AL West this summer. Now, in his first start with his new team, the former Cy Young winner will be facing the Phillies, an NL East team he is very familiar with. In 20 starts with the Mets against the Phillies, deGrom went 9-1 with a 2.17 ERA and 136 strikeouts. deGrom, when healthy, is arguably the best pitcher in the entire sport, so whenever he is on the rubber, the game is a must-watch.
Aaron Nola finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting last season, and his expectations for this coming season are high. Nola started 32 games last season and finished with a 2.58 FIP, a .96 WHIP, a .218 batting average against, a 29.1 K%, and a 6.3 WAR. As the opening-day starter for the defending NL Champs, Nola will look to get his and the Phillies’ seasons off on the right foot.
New York Mets @ Miami Marlins
RHP Max Scherzer vs RHP Sandy Alcantara
Even with the Mets’ acquisition of Justin Verlander, it is not a shock to see the Mets starting Scherzer on opening day. In his age-37 season last year, Max Scherzer had a great year that was bogged down by injuries and a poor postseason pitching outing. Still, the three-time Cy Young winner was electric when healthy, and he should be in store for another big year. Scherzer made 23 starts last season and ended with a 2.62 FIP, a .91 WHIP, a .204 batting average against, a 30.6 K%, and a 4.4 WAR.
Sandy Alcantara was dominant in 2022, including on opening day, en route to winning the NL Cy Young award last season. This will be Alcantara’s fourth straight opening day start for Miami, and Alcantara would love to start his Cy Young defense off on a high note against a divisional rival. Last season, Alcantara started 32 games with a 2.99 FIP, a .98 WHIP, a .210 batting average against, a 23.4 K%, and a 5.7 WAR.
Cleveland Guardians @ Seattle Mariners
RHP Shane Bieber vs RHP Luis Castillo
For the Guardians, there was no doubt that Bieber would be toeing the slab on opening day. The 2020 Cy Young winner will take the mound for his fourth straight opening-day start for Cleveland. Bieber made 31 starts last season, and he finished with a 2.87 FIP, a 1.04 WHIP, a .228 batting average against, a 25 K%, and a 4.9 WAR. He finished seventh in AL Cy Young voting in 2022, and he should have another big season in 2023.
The Mariners have a few guys who could have been considered for this spot, but Seattle elected to do what they also did in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card: Start Luis Castillo. Seattle acquired Castillo from the Reds during the 2022 season, and he pitched very well for Seattle. For the entire 2022 season, Castillo had a 3.07 FIP, a 1.102 WHIP, a .210 batting average against, a 27.2 K%, and a 3.7 WAR.
Other Studs Pitching on Opening Day:
- LHP Max Fried – Atlanta Braves
- RHP Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels
- RHP Gerrit Cole – New York Yankees
- RHP Corbin Burnes – Milwaukee Brewers
- LHP Shane McClanahan – Tampa Bay Rays
- RHP Alek Manoah – Toronto Blue Jays
MLB Opening Day – Under the Radar Pitching Matchups
Arizona Diamondbacks @ Los Angeles Dodgers
RHP Zac Gallen vs LHP Julio Urias
It may be because he pitches in Arizona, but Zac Gallen has been impressive throughout his young MLB career, and he deserves more attention. Gallen finished fifth in NL Cy Young voting last year, and he earned the opening-day start over Madison Bumgarner. Gallen should put together another impressive campaign in 2023. He finished last season with 31 starts, a 3.05 FIP, a .91 WHIP, a .185 batting average against, a 26.9 K%, and a 4.3 WAR.
After finishing third in Cy Young voting last season and 14th in MVP voting, Urias probably is not under the radar anymore. After showing flashes early in his career and a terrific 2021 season, Urias was incredible for the Dodgers last year and is certainly an ace. He finished last year with a 3.71 FIP, a .96 WHIP, a .198 batting average against, a 24.1 K%, and a 3.2 WAR.
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Cincinnati Reds
RHP Mitch Keller vs. RHP Hunter Greene
Neither Keller nor Greene are household names, but these two players are ascending talents on the bump. Keller will be entering his third full season for the Pirates, and last year, in a career-high 31 starts, he posted a 3.88 FIP, a 1.40 WHIP, a 7.1% weak batter ball percentage, and a 2.1 WAR. He is a six-pitch pitcher, and I think his stuff is underrated.
Hunter Greene is more well known since he was touted on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a baseball prodigy. At just 22 years old, Greene had a rough rookie season, but given his age and the stuff he possesses, Greene will be just fine. He finished his rookie season with a 30.9 K%, a 3.64 xFIP, a 1.12 WHIP, and a 1.6 WAR. He showed flashes of dominance last season, and we expect him to take a major leap forward this season.
MLB Opening Day – Primetime ESPN Matchup
Chicago White Sox @ Houston Astros
RHP Dylan Cease vs LHP Framber Valdez
The Astros and the White Sox have the honor of being the first primetime matchup of MLB opening day this season. While the White Sox as a team was disappointing last season, Cease was incredible. The righty made 32 starts and had a 3.10 FIP, a 1.11 WHIP, a .189 batting average against, a 30.4 K%, and a 4.4 WAR en route to finishing 2nd in AL Cy Young voting.
Last year’s opening-day starter, and AL Cy Young winner, is no longer with Houston, so Valdez will make the start for the defending World Series champions. Don’t worry, Astros fans; you are in great hands. Valdez was electric last year, and he finished fifth in Cy Young voting and 20th in MVP voting. Valdez made 31 starts and had a 3.06 FIP, a 1.157 WHIP, a .222 batting average against, a 23.5 K%, and a 4.4 WAR.
2023 MLB Futures Package and Betting Guide
GoldSheet has released eight futures bets for the 2023 MLB season, so you can get that package here. Also, GoldSheet teamed up with handicappers from WagerTalk and Sportsmemo to produce a 105-page MLB betting guide for the 2023 season. Check out team previews, stat logs, division odds, win totals, and more to help you prepare for the upcoming baseball season.
2023 MLB Transactions
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