What to watch for on the first full day of the MLB season

After the Dodgers and Padres soft-launched the 2024 MLB season with a two-game series in South Korea last week, the rest of the league was scheduled to start play today.

All 30 teams were supposed to be in action, before Braves-Phillies and Brewers-Mets games were rained out. All eyes remain on Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, who will make his home debut with Los Angeles amid investigations into his fired interpreter. Zack Wheeler and Spencer Strider square off in a juicy NL East opener between the Phillies and Braves in Philadelphia.

Several stars are set to debut with new teams, including Juan Soto with the Yankees, Josh Hader with the Astros, Corbin Burnes with the Orioles and Matt Chapman with the Giants.

Here’s what to watch for on MLB’s Opening Day:


Shohei Ohtani already made his Dodgers debut last week in South Korea, but all eyes will still be on the two-way sensation as Los Angeles hosts the St. Louis Cardinals. The $700 million star is trying to remain focused on the field after the firing of his longtime interpreter and friend Ippei Mizuhara, who Ohtani said Monday stole money from him to pay off gambling debts. Mizuhara was fired while the Dodgers were in Seoul last week for a season-opening, two-game series against San Diego.

Ohtani, who won’t pitch this season while recovering from a second Tommy John surgery, was 3 for 10 with two RBIs as Los Angeles split the Seoul Series. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts posited Tuesday that Mizuhara’s absence could be good for Ohtani, saying Mizuhara had been a “buffer” between the Japanese star and his new teammates.


Several stars are set to debut with new teams. Juan Soto, still just 25, was dealt from the Padres to the Yankees over the winter and will slot into the lineup along with Aaron Judge when New York faces Houston. Late in the game, the Astros might counter Soto with Josh Hader, a five-time All-Star closer who signed with Houston in January.

Corbin Burnes is on the mound for Baltimore against the Angels after a Feb. 1 trade from Milwaukee. Matt Chapman should be at third base for the Giants against San Diego, and Rhys Hoskins suits up for the Brewers against the Mets.


World Series MVP Corey Seager and the defending champion Texas Rangers open at home with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound against Cody Bellinger and the Cubs.

Coming off their surprising run to the National League pennant, Zac Gallen and the Diamondbacks host Colorado.

Arizona made a late splash at the very end of spring training, boosting its rotation by agreeing Tuesday with free-agent pitcher Jordan Montgomery on a $25 million, one-year contract that includes a vesting option for 2025. The deal was subject to a successful physical.


Two of baseball’s top hitting prospects — the Brewers’ Jackson Chourio and the Rangers’ Wyatt Langford — are set to make their big league debuts. Chourio, 20, signed an $82 million, eight-year deal this offseason, the most money guaranteed to a player with no major league experience. Langford, meanwhile, will reach the majors less than a year after Texas selected him fourth overall in the 2023 amateur draft from the University of Florida.

Neither Orioles infielder Jackson Holliday nor Nationals outfielder James Wood cracked their opening day rosters despite impressive spring trainings.


Several teams are expected to open the season without their injured closers, including the Arizona Diamondbacks (Paul Sewald), the Baltimore Orioles (Félix Bautista), the Milwaukee Brewers (Devin Williams), the Minnesota Twins (Jhoan Durán) and the Toronto Blue Jays (Jordan Romano).

Defending AL East champion Baltimore signed veteran reliever Craig Kimbrel, eighth on the career list with 417 saves, to fill in for Bautista, who is expected to miss the entire season following Tommy John surgery and an additional elbow procedure.

Meanwhile, the New York Mets get back All-Star closer Edwin Díaz after he missed last season following knee surgery. Sound the trumpets at Citi Field.

“I know the fans will get loud,” Díaz said Wednesday. “I will feel the chills.”

Chicago White Sox’s Eloy Jiménez connects with an RBI single against the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)


Openers in New York and Philadelphia were postponed a day until Friday because of rainy forecasts in both cities.

Pete Alonso and the New York Mets were scheduled to host the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday afternoon. But with wet weather expected in Queens, the Mets announced Wednesday the game was pushed back to Friday at 1:40 p.m.

Minutes later, the Philadelphia Phillies announced their sold-out opener against the NL East rival Atlanta Braves was moved from Thursday at 3:05 p.m. to Friday at the same time due to anticipated rain.


When the Phillies and Braves get going Friday, right-handers Zack Wheeler and Spencer Strider square off in a juicy NL East matchup.

Wheeler is pitching with a new contract after agreeing to a $126 million, three-year deal for 2025-27 this spring. The 33-year-old could’ve become a free agent after this season, but instead he recommitted to Philadelphia, where he’s been among the game’s best since joining the club as a free agent for the 2020 season.

Strider, meanwhile, has a new pitch. The 25-year-old right-hander has been working on a curveball this spring to deepen his repertoire. A scary thought for batters — without that curve, Strider struck out a major league-high 281 in 186 2/3 innings last season, finishing fourth in NL Cy Young Award balloting.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Braves finished 14 games ahead of Philadelphia each of the past two years. But the Phillies ended Atlanta’s postseason in Game 4 of a Division Series at Citizens Bank Park both times.


Chicago Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger (24) is shown against the Atlanta Braves in a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

When the Brewers and Mets get underway, Pat Murphy takes over as manager of the defending NL Central champions after Craig Counsell bolted for the rival Cubs during the offseason.

New York turns to first-timer Carlos Mendoza — the former Yankees bench coach was hired to replace Buck Showalter by new president of baseball operations David Stearns, who used to run the Brewers after growing up a Mets fan in New York City.

“It’s getting real,” Mendoza said Wednesday. “I’m pretty sure I will feel those butterflies.”

After trading Burnes, a three-time All-Star and the 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner, Milwaukee gives Freddy Peralta his first career opening-day start.

Jose Quintana goes for the Mets, minus 2023 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Kodai Senga because of a shoulder injury. Quintana, born in Colombia, just became an American citizen last week.

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