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Five Best Opening Day Pitching Matchups in 2024

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Even though the Dodgers and Padres have played two games, the real MLB opening day isn’t until Thursday, so it’s time to start looking at 2024 opening day pitching matchups. Obviously, opening day is when teams send their aces to the mound. That usually leads to some top-notch pitching matchups.

Top 5 Opening Day Pitching Matchups in 2024

MLB fans might notice that this year’s opening day matchups are a little different from what we’re used to seeing. Pitchers like Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, or Clayton Kershaw who are among the greatest starting pitchers in MLB history aren’t scheduled to pitch on opening day this year.

Instead, it’ll be a new crop of opening-day starters. However, there were still 2024 opening-day pitching matchups that we wanted to highlight as can’t-miss matchups for MLB fans.

Rockies vs Diamondbacks: Kyle Freeland vs Zac Gallen

After Zac Gallen’s postseason heroics in getting the Diamondbacks to the World Series last year, it was a no-brainer for him to be Arizona’s starter on opening day. He’s a bonafide ace and arguably the biggest reason why the D’Backs reached the World Series last year.

To be fair, Kyle Freeland makes this matchup interesting too. The lefty has had a rollercoaster of a career in Colorado. However, He won 17 games back in 2018 and is capable of performing like a frontline starter.

       

Yankees vs Astros: Nestor Cortes vs Framber Valdez

Obviously, a Gerrit Cole vs Justin Verlander matchup would have drawn more headlines. But there’s nothing wrong with Nestor Cortes and Framber Valdez squaring off on opening day for two of the best teams in the American League.

Cortes was brilliant in 2022 and will be hoping that opening day is the start of a bounce-back season. Valdez, meanwhile, has been an all-star in back-to-back years and tossed a no-hitter last season. He may not be on Verlander’s level, but he’s earned the opening-day starter this year.

Cubs vs Rangers: Justin Steele vs Nathan Eovaldi

The Rangers will raise their championship banner on opening day, and they’ll do it with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. It’s a well-deserved opening day start for Eovaldi, who was spectacular during the postseason last year. He was the winning pitcher in five of his six playoff starts, tying the record for most wins in a single postseason.

Eovaldi was also an all-star and an All-MLB Second-Team selection in 2023, so he’s coming off arguably his best season. But don’t sleep on Justin Steele, who was also an all-star for the Cubs in 2023. The lefty won 16 games last year and finished with a 3.06 ERA. While he may not be a well-known commodity outside of Chicago, he’s earned the opening-day start against the defending champs.

Blue Jays vs Rays: Jose Berrios vs Zach Eflin

These may not be the biggest names in baseball right now, but don’t forget that Jose Berrios is a two-time all-star while Zach Eflin led the American League in wins last year. They are also the aces on two teams with playoff aspirations.

       

To be fair, Berrios is benefitting from Kevin Gausman being unavailable for the Blue Jays. But he’s still a legitimate frontline starter. Eflin, on the other hand, got lost in the shuffle with the Phillies early in his career but had a breakout season with the Rays last year. With Tyler Glasnow gone, he’s now the leader of Tampa’s rotation and has big expectations heading into 2024. 

Braves vs Phillies: Spencer Strider vs Zack Wheeler

This is undoubtedly the best pitching matchup on opening day this year. Not surprisingly, it comes in the game between two of the top contenders in the National League. More importantly, both Spencer Strider of the Braves and Zack Wheeler of the Phillies have legitimate Cy Young hopes.

Strider was the MLB leader in both wins and strikeouts last season while also being a First-Team All-MLB selection. He’s surely the best pitcher in baseball right now when it comes to striking out opposing batters. Of course, Wheeler isn’t far behind in that regard. He’s also a proven big-game pitcher. On opening day, Wheeler is bound to have his best stuff and end up in a pitcher’s duel with Strider.

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