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2021 MLB Opening Day: Let the Games Begin

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Over the last 17 months, MLB fans and players have endured two offseasons, Covid 19 delays, and a shortened 2020 season. No more waiting: It’s time for 2021 MLB Opening Day.

Generally, Opening Day starts with a soft launch, with a handful of teams beginning mid-week, followed by the majority playing a Friday through Sunday series. This year, however, MLB has all 30 teams in action, starting later today. Throughout the next week, Overtime Heroics will be bringing you Opening Day series previews for each team’s home opener series. For now, a general look at what’s on tap for today’s bouts.

2021 MLB Opening Day: AL East Action

As the 2021 season begins, the Tampa Bay rays will look to defend their AL East title, having distanced themselves from the second-place Yankees by an impressive seven games in 2020. Last year’s third-place Blue Jays have improved over the winter, while Alex Cora is trying to figure out how his 2018 World Series champion Red Sox can avoid finishing last again in 2021.

Today’s AL East Games

2021 MLB Opening Day: AL Central Matchups

Much closer than the race for the 2020 AL East pennant, the Minnesota Twins will look to defend their AL Central crown after finishing just a game ahead of the White Sox and Indians last season. Last year saw the Royals finish in fourth, 10 games behind the Twins, but if spring training is any indication, KC looks serious about winning in 2021. Meanwhile, 2020’s cellar-dwellers, the Detroit Tigers, are hoping to claw their way out of the basement for the first time in three years.

Today’s AL Central Games

2021 MLB Opening Day: AL West Schedule

Last season, the Oakland A’s jumped up to surprise the AL West, claiming the division title while distancing themselves over the second-place Astros by 7.0 games. The Astros took some hits this winter, the biggest being Justin Verlander who was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Moving down the 2020 standings from third to fifth-place respectively, the Mariners are hoping to improve on last year’s third-place finish, while Joe Maddon‘s Angels will see if Maddon’s unique and somewhat quirky managerial style is going to work in Anaheim over the course of 162 games. Bringing up the rear, the Rangers could hardly do any worse than their 22-38 record last year (.367 winning percentage).

Today’s AL West Games
  • Rangers @ Royals: 4:10 PM Eastern (RHP Kyle Gibson vs. RHP Brad Keller)
  • White Sox @ Angels: 10:05 PM Eastern (RHP Lucas Giolito vs. RHP Dylan Bundy)
  • Astros @ A’s: 10:07 PM Eastern (RHP Zach Greinke vs. TBD)
  • Giants @ Mariners: 10:10 PM Eastern (RHP Kevin Gausman vs. LHP Marco Gonzalez)

2021 MLB Opening Day: NL East Pairings

As expected, Atlanta captured the NL East pennant last season, finishing three games ahead of a surprisingly improved Marlins team. Meanwhile, the Phillies settled for third, though their expectations were much higher. Finishing fourth in 2020, the Mets hope to be near the top this season, while last-place Washington looks to get over their 2019 World Series hangover.

Today’s NL East Games
  • Braves @ Phillies: 3:05 PM Eastern (LHP Max Fried vs. TBD)
  • Mets @ Nationals: 7:09 PM Eastern (RHP Jacob deGrom vs RHP Max Scherzer)
  • Rays @ Marlins: 4:10 PM Eastern (RHP Tyler Glasnow vs. TBD)

2021 MLB Opening Day: NL Central Duels

Not many people expected the Cubs to earn another NL Central pennant in 2020, but under the direction of new manager David Ross, the Cubs surprised more than a few fans. Despite several roster changes this season which saw several key players migrate to new homes, Chicago seemed to have their act together in Cactus League play this offseason. Can Chicago do it again?

The 2020 second-place Cardinals improved over the winter with the acquisition of Nolan Arenado and will look to dethrone the reigning NL Central champs. Meanwhile, the Brewers are looking to avoid another fourth-place finish, the Reds are hoping to maintain third, and the Pirates are praying for anything but bragging rights for last place… again.

Today’s NL Central Games
  • Pirates @ Cubs: 2:20 PM Eastern (TBD vs. RHP Kyle Hendricks)
  • Twins @ Brewers: 2:10 PM Central (RHP Kenta Maeda vs. RHP Brandon Woodruff)
  • Cardinals @ Reds: 4:10 PM Eastern (RHP Jack Flaherty vs. TBD)  

2021 MLB Opening Day: NL West Clashes

Another year, another NL West title and potential World Series appearance for the Dodgers? Not so fast, as the Padres have taken tremendous strides at competing for the pennant in 2021. Last year saw the Friars finish 6.0 games behind the Dodgers, but Jayce Tingler‘s crew may be gunning for a division title this season.

Thus far, it looks to be just a two-horse race for the NL West, with SF, Colorado, and Arizona (all sub-.484 last year) fighting for third on back. The Rox will be trying to recover from losing Arenado, while the D-Backs and Giants look to overcome their own demons.

Today’s NL West Games
  • Dodgers @ Rockies: 4:10 PM Eastern (LHP Clayton Kershaw vs. TBD)
  • Diamondbacks @ Padres: 4:10 PM Central (Pitchers TBD)
  • Rangers @ Royals: 4:10 PM Eastern (RHP Kyle Gibson vs. RHP Brad Keller)

There you have it, all 30 teams in action for 2021 MLB Opening Day. Enjoy the games… Baseball is back.

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main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Ken Allison is the senior of two MLB Department Heads, as well as a writer and editor for Overtime Heroics. A life-long MLB fan, he's also written for CubsHQ and had the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs in 1986.