The 2022 Major League Baseball regular season is on the horizon.
The 99-day lockout came to an end on March 10, which happened just in time so the league could preserve a full 162-game season and avoid any game cancellations.
With Spring Training underway, players are getting in form for the start of the new campaign.
Here is when Opening Day starts, along with marquee matchups to watch for in MLB’s big day.
When is MLB Opening Day 2022?
Opening Day will officially start on April 7.
There are seven games scheduled, with two openers postponed to Friday due to weather: the New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins/Seattle Mariners games.
Here are the seven games scheduled for Thursday:
- Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs, 2:20 p.m. ET
- New York Mets at Washington Nationals, 4:05 p.m. ET
- Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals, 4:10 p.m. ET
- Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals, 4:15 p.m. ET
- Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels, 9:38 p.m. ET
- San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET
What are some key games to watch for?
Brewers at Cubs
The Cubs will kick off their season at Wrigley Field, but it should be a tough one against a divisional foe. The Brewers won the National League Central last season with a 95-67 record, while Chicago finished 20 games below .500 with a 71-91 record, placing them fourth.
Andrew McCutchen is the name to watch for Milwaukee. He signed a one-year deal worth $8.5 million this spring and should definitely bolster the Brewers’ lineup. McCutchen is a five-time All-Star, but his last nod came in 2015. He had 107 hits, 80 runs batted in and 27 home runs last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, which were all the most he has had since 2018.
For the Cubs, Seiya Suzuki will be making his MLB debut after signing a five-year deal reportedly worth $85 million. He had played for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan and tallied five All-Star nods and five Gold Gloves during his nine seasons there.
Mets at Nationals
The Mets, with the league’s second-highest payroll in MLB at over $252 million, enter the season as New York’s big spenders. But they could be without their two highest-paid players on Opening Day.
Jacob deGrom has been shut down for four weeks due to a stress reaction in his shoulder. His expected Opening Day replacement Max Scherzer, who signed a three-year, $130 million deal with the Mets in the offseason, remains day-to-day with hamstring tightness. If Scherzer is unable to pitch against his former team, it leaves some uncertainty as to who will take the ball for the Mets on Opening Day.
Whoever does will face one of baseball’s most prolific young hitters in Juan Soto, who hit .313 with 29 home runs and 95 RBIs last season. Patrick Corbin gets the Opening Day start as the Nationals look to rebound from last season’s 65-97 finish.
Reds at Braves
The Braves will start the quest to defend their 2021 World Series title at home in Truist Park against the Reds. Cincinnati posted an 83-79 record last season, which had them just outside the playoff bracket.
Matt Olson arrived in Atlanta from the Oakland Athletics via trade this spring, and the Braves inked the Georgia native to an eight-year contract worth $168 million. His debut will be one to monitor as former Atlanta star Freddie Freeman went to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For Cincinnati, a key player to watch is Jonathan India. The 2021 NL Rookie of the Year was immense in his first season, batting .269 with 98 runs, 69 runs batted in and 21 home runs. Let’s see if he can build on that in his second season.
Astros at Angels
This AL West battle should also be an entertaining matchup. The Astros finished first in the division last season but fell in the World Series. Los Angeles finished fourth with a 77-85 record, but the Angels are expected to improve this season.
A key storyline to watch for Houston is the loss of Carlos Correa, who signed with the Twins on a three-year, $105 million deal. The shortstop last season had career-highs in runs (104) and home runs (26) to go with 155 hits and 92 runs batted in on a .279 batting average. Let’s see how the Astros replace that production.
For the Angels, the superstar duo of Matt Trout and Shohei Ohtani will be vital. Trout played a season-low 36 games in 2021 after a calf strain derailed his campaign, but he is now healthy. Adding Matt Duffy on a one-year deal could also prove to be a great under-the-radar move. The 31-year-old infielder batted .287 in 97 appearances last season with the Cubs and should help Los Angeles’ lineup.
Red Sox at Yankees (Friday)
Not only are the Red Sox and Yankees two of the most storied franchises in the sport, but both are expected to be competing for the World Series this season.
Last year, both teams made the playoffs with a 92-70 record. The teams met in the American League Wild Card Game, where the Red Sox advanced after a 6-2 win.
It will also mark a new chapter for Red Sox star Trevor Story. Story, who signed a six-year, $140 million deal this spring, is expected to play second base for Boston after previously playing shortstop for the Colorado Rockies. New York will look to big bats Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to shine.