Ranking the 2024 MLB Opening Day Matchups From Best to Worst

Which Opening Day matchups carry the most intrigue? Here's a closer look at all 15 contests.

Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves and Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies speak during the first inning at Citizens Bank Park.
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - SEPTEMBER 13: Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves and Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies speak during the first inning at Citizens Bank Park on September 13, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

When Thursday arrives, the long, dark winter days that Major League Baseball fans have endured since the beginning of last November will finally come to a close.

Oh sure, MLB has already technically launched the 2024 season, with a two-game series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres kicking off the campaign in Seoul, South Korea (if you missed the key moments of that series, we have you covered here).

However, with the series taking place in the incredibly early morning hours in most parts of the United States, it’s safe to say that there are still plenty of fans who are ready to watch their first official baseball game of 2024.

While Just Baseball has already explored each of the Opening Day starting pitcher matchups here, I wanted to take a look at the first games of the 2024 season across the league and see which ones had the most exciting and captivating storylines. With that in mind, here are all 15 MLB Opening Day matchups, ranked from least to most intriguing.

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15. Cleveland Guardians at Oakland A’s

10:07 p.m. ET at Oakland Coliseum

Starting pitchers: Shane Bieber (CLE) vs. Alex Wood (OAK)

Sorry, fans of the green and gold, but it’s going to be hard to get excited about too much that involves the Coliseum this season, especially not knowing what the future holds for it or the franchise.

Coming off a 112-loss season, Oakland has less than a one percent chance to make the postseason, per Baseball Reference.

Last season on Opening Day, more than 26,000 fans were at the Coliseum to see the A’s take on the Angels. This year, however, Shohei Ohtani won’t be in the other dugout, and the chances of the A’s staying in Oakland are nowhere near what they were when last season began. As small as they might have been then, they are microscopic compared to that now.

Cleveland, meanwhile, could contend for the American League Central title if things go right under first-year manager Stephen Vogt. However, there are still plenty of questions about an offense that finished 12th in the AL last season in runs scored.

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Shane Bieber is making the start for the Guardians. Will he still be with the team when the trade deadline approaches?

14. Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins

4:10 p.m. ET at loanDepot Park

Starting pitchers: Mitch Keller (PIT) vs. Jesús Luzardo (MIA)

Yes, the Marlins made the postseason in 2023 and the Pirates feel like a team that could make some noise in a National League Central that has a free-for-all feel to it. However, with both teams entering the season as long shots to make the playoffs in 2024, there are more attractive matchups.

Injuries have certainly hurt the Miami rotation, and there are still plenty of questions about what kind of team the Marlins can be after big changes in the front office this offseason (with Peter Bendix coming in following Kim Ng’s departure). Can Tim Anderson recapture some of his swagger that seemed to dissipate last season? Outside of Luis Arraez, are there any hitters to be consistently feared in the Miami order?

A top three in the Steel City lineup of Oneil Cruz, Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes is certainly intriguing, and Pittsburgh is no stranger to a hot start (going 20-9 to open the 2023 campaign). However, it’s about the Pirates finding a way to sustain the offense (and avoid injuries) this season.

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13. Detroit Tigers at Chicago White Sox

4:10 p.m. ET at Guaranteed Rate Field

Starting pitchers: Tarik Skubal (DET) vs. Garrett Crochet (CWS)

If you’re looking for a pair of teams in the American League Central for whom no one is quite sure which direction they are heading, you’re going to love this matchup on Chicago’s South Side.

While it’s easy to argue that the Tigers are potentially better heading into this season than they were in 2023, it’s also easy to see that after Opening Day starter Tarik Skubal, there are plenty of pitching questions. Meanwhile, Detroit’s lineup will be without Miguel Cabrera this year, and the Tigers are hoping the younger cast of characters who were there last season (including Spencer Torkelson) can create a new identity for the team.

The White Sox, meanwhile, could be destined for the division cellar but still have weapons in the lineup like Luis Robert Jr. and Eloy Jiménez. The rotation, however, without Dylan Cease, leaves a lot to be desired. Garrett Crochet will make his first career start on Opening Day, saying a lot about how the team is transforming its look in 2024.

12. Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks

10:10 p.m. ET at Chase Field

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Starting pitchers: Kyle Freeland (COL) vs. Zac Gallen (ARI)

It is hard to put the defending National League champions so low, but when you’re looking at matchups around MLB on Opening Day, a clash between a pair of teams that share a spring training facility in Scottsdale doesn’t have some of the pop found elsewhere.

Zac Gallen will get the call for Arizona, and with this start, he will already match the number of times he faced the Rockies in 2023 (one). However, in that one start, Gallen threw six shutout innings and struck out seven.

For the Rockies, it’s all about showing how they can rebound from the franchise’s first-ever 100-loss season in 2023. Part of that could come from Kris Bryant staying healthy and finding his swing, plus Brenton Doyle and Nolan Jones proving their defensive abilities in the outfield can be just as good in their second MLB seasons as they were last year.

11. Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

4:10 p.m. ET at Great American Ballpark

Starting pitchers: Josiah Gray (WSH) vs. Frankie Montas (CIN)

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There is plenty to like about the young talent on both of these rosters, and baseball fans know that Opening Day in Cincinnati is like a national holiday. However, compared to some of the other matchups, this one doesn’t crack the top 10.

Jesse Winker and Joey Gallo will figure into the mix for Washington to start the season, but all eyes will be on players like CJ Abrams, Lane Thomas and Keibert Ruiz taking the next step and helping the Nationals discover their identity in what will be a tough National League East.

After a season in which the Reds showed how youth can power a near-miss of the postseason, can Cincinnati find the top of the division in 2024? With Frankie Montas getting the Opening Day call, we may see very early what kind of shape the hurler is in after an injury-plagued 2023 in the Bronx.

10. Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals

4:10 p.m. ET at Kauffman Stadium

Starting pitchers: Pablo López (MIN) vs. Cole Ragans (KCR)

This is the series I will be covering for Just Baseball to open the campaign. Why? Because I believe these two teams could be fighting for the top of the AL Central when the season draws to a close.

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Minnesota certainly has all the tools to get back to the postseason, although Byron Buxton’s health is a perennial wild card. Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis give the Twins plenty of pop at the top of the lineup, and Pablo López will draw the Opening Day start as the Minnesota ace.

For Kansas City, youth is being served, but the Royals have made plenty of shrewd moves this offseason to strengthen their roster. One such move was adding Hunter Renfroe and Adam Frazier, who could bring a veteran feel to the lineup along with the face of the franchise, Salvador Perez.

Cole Ragans, acquired in a trade with the Rangers last season, gets the start and could set the tone for the season to come after making 12 starts and posting a 2.64 ERA/2.49 FIP in a Royals uniform last year.

9. Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners

10:10 p.m. ET at T-Mobile Park

Starting pitchers: Brayan Bello (BOS) vs. Luis Castillo (SEA)

If you’re staying up late on Opening Day, this matchup in the Pacific Northwest will give fans their first look at whether or not the offseason strategies for these two teams will pay off in 2024.

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For the Red Sox, Brayan Bello gets the Opening Day start for a rotation that will have plenty to prove in 2024. Tyler O’Neill will get his first taste of regular-season play in a Red Sox uniform, while Trevor Story will be hoping to not only stay healthy but also be consistently productive as well.

Seattle made some moves this offseason, with Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garver likely settling into the middle of the Mariners’ order and hoping to provide some offense to support Julio Rodríguez. Luis Castillo is a dark horse candidate to win the AL Cy Young Award, and a strong start against the Red Sox could propel that talk further.

8. Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets

1:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field

Starting pitchers: Freddy Peralta (MIL) vs. Jose Quintana (NYM)

Let the David Stearns Bowl commence!

These are two teams that could surprise or disappoint in 2023. Where exactly each team is heading in a pair of divisions with plenty of competition may not be revealed until deeper in the season. However, Opening Day is certainly a chance for both teams to see where they can go behind pitchers who they might not have expected to be the OD starter when last season ended.

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Jose Quintana will get the start for the Mets after Kodai Senga was slowed by a shoulder injury in spring training. For the post-Corbin Burnes era Brewers, Freddy Peralta will get the nod. This marks the first time in five years someone not named Burnes or Brandon Woodruff will take the bump on Opening Day for Milwaukee.

By the way, since 1969, New York is 41-13 in its first game of the season.

7. Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles

3:05 p.m. ET at Camden Yards

Starting pitchers: Patrick Sandoval (LAA) vs. Corbin Burnes (BAL)

After dropping out in the ALDS last season, all eyes are on Baltimore this year to see if the addition of Burnes can help push the Orioles deep into October. With plenty of youth at their disposal, the O’s have no shortage of weapons to once again fight through a tough AL East.

For the Angels, the questions will be about new manager Ron Washington and what he can do with a mix of young talent and veterans. Patrick Sandoval will make his first-ever Opening Day start and paces a rotation that will likely go through some growing pains this season.

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On Opening Day, these two bullpens will be interesting to watch, especially late in the game. Can Craig Kimbrel show the Orioles he can be their closer? Can Carlos Estevez prove his rough second half was just a mirror of the Angels’ struggles after the All-Star break?

6. San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres

4:10 p.m. ET at Petco Park

Starting pitchers: Logan Webb (SFG) vs. Yu Darvish (SDP)

If you’re looking for a little spice on Opening Day, look no further than Petco Park and an NL West matchup with plenty of storylines.

On the San Francisco side, Bob Melvin makes his debut as the Giants manager after a very awkward exit from San Diego last season. There are plenty of Padres fans who won’t hold back from letting Melvin know how they feel about his departure, so make sure your volume is on for the team introductions.

From the San Diego point of view, last year’s Opening Day starter, Blake Snell, is now with the Giants as well. Yu Darvish will take the mound for the first game at Petco after allowing an unearned run in 3.2 innings against the Dodgers in Seoul.

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5. Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

4:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field

Starting pitchers: José Berríos (TOR) vs. Zach Eflin (TBR)

An early AL East battle between a pair of teams who will likely once again be fighting for a postseason spot come October.

Toronto fans wondered about some of the team’s offseason moves (or lack thereof) this winter, so opening the season in Florida against a division rival puts them a little more under the microscope to begin 2024. Can Justin Turner and Isiah Kiner-Falefa help erase the shattered dreams of Shohei Ohtani or Cody Bellinger in a Blue Jays uniform?

Zach Eflin will get the Opening Day start for the Rays, who will be looking to quickly erase last year’s Wild Card loss to Texas from memory. Tampa Bay simply couldn’t produce any offense against Texas pitching, so Yandy Díaz and Randy Arozarena will be looking to get off to hot starts in 2024.

4. Chicago Cubs at Texas Rangers

7:35 p.m. ET at Globe Life Field

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Starting pitchers: Justin Steele (CHC) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (TEX)

The defending World Champions are opening the season at home … and it comes in number four on the list? This is how stacked the top of the Opening Day schedule is around MLB.

That same Bellinger who didn’t end up in Toronto is back in Chicago, and manager Craig Counsell looks poised to help the Cubs get back into the postseason. Justin Steele gets the Opening Day start and could factor into the NL Cy Young race.

For the Rangers, Corey Seager has returned from a sports hernia quicker than anticipated, giving Texas something to celebrate before the banner is raised. Wyatt Langford and Evan Carter are expected to form a young core of an outfield; along with Adolis Garcia, the outfield will provide plenty of power to the lineup.

3. New York Yankees at Houston Astros

4:10 p.m. ET at Minute Maid Park

Starting pitchers: Nestor Cortes (NYY) vs. Framber Valdez (HOU)

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Whatever bad blood might be brewing in San Diego on Opening Day doesn’t hold a candle to the lack of friendliness that always seems to creep up when the Yankees and Astros get together.

For the Yankees, Juan Soto will be in the spotlight in his first game in pinstripes as the biggest acquisition of the offseason in the Bronx. Will Nestor Cortes be “nasty” in South Texas on Opening Day? He will need to be to hold Houston’s offense in check.

In Houston, it’s the dawning of a new era as Joe Espada takes over for Dusty Baker in the dugout. However, while Espada might be new, it’s the usual powerful cast of characters up and down the lineup that has the Astros in position to take the AL West again.

2. St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

4:10 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium

Starting pitchers: Miles Mikolas (STL) vs. Tyler Glasnow (LAD)

St. Louis is looking to prove 2023 was a fluke. The Dodgers are looking to show that an eye-popping amount of spending will be enough to finally earn them another World Series title.

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Much of the strategy for St. Louis in the offseason centered on rebuilding the rotation, and Cardinals fans thought they would get a look at a key free agent acquisition on Opening Day: Sonny Gray. However, he will start 2024 on the injured list and Miles Mikolas, who is looking for redemption after a tough 2023 under the Gateway Arch, will open the season on the mound.

For Los Angeles, the formula is simple: Let a trio of MVP candidates in Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman carry a very deep lineup, while trade acquisition Tyler Glasnow shows why he will eventually make a difference in the Dodgers’ postseason fortunes.

1. Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

3:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park

Starting pitchers: Spencer Strider (ATL) vs. Zack Wheeler (PHI)

If this matchup doesn’t get you excited as a baseball fan, you may need to check your pulse. After all, last October showed that there is little love lost between these two franchises that both believe they belong in the Fall Classic in 2024.

Both teams have lineups that are deep and can put up a ton of runs. Both teams will send starters to the mound (Atlanta’s Spencer Strider and Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler) who believe they should be in the NL Cy Young conversation.

They each have passionate fanbases, but the Phillies will have the home-field advantage on Opening Day. While Red March may not feel like Red October inside Citizens Bank Park, there will be plenty of energy for the first of what will likely be a series of fascinating games between the division powerhouses.