These Opening Day Games Will Get You Excited for the 2022 MLB Season

MLB Opening Day 2022: Shohei Ohtani winds up to throw a pitch.
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei OhtaniRoss D Franklin/AP / Shutterstock

Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is Thursday, April 7. It marks the beginning of the 2022 MLB season and a 162-game schedule (which had been in danger of being shortened during the league’s recent lockout). Eighteen of the league’s 30 teams will be in action across nine Opening Day games between 1:05 p.m. (EDT) and the late evening.

In several ways, 2022 will be a year of change in MLB. The National League has designated hitters, both leagues have six playoff teams, the American League East is loaded, and a bunch of stars changed teams in the offseason. In other ways, it’ll feel similar to what you’re used to watching: Shohei Ohtani will hit and pitch preposterously well, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be in full tank mode, the Los Angeles Dodgers will win around 100 games, and fans will once again pack stadiums around the country.

It all starts Thursday. To guide your viewing, here are Opening Day games to watch in every time slot on the first day of Major League Baseball in 2022, so you can enjoy 12 hours or so of uninterrupted ball (as long as you’re not preoccupied with the first round of The Masters, which will be happening at the same time).

Mets Cubs Baseball, Chicago, USA Noah Syndergaard New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, in Chicago 12 May 2015

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1. Red Sox at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. (EDT) on MLB Network

Red Sox–Yankees games get old, and the rivalry is years removed from its most enjoyable eras. But this is Opening Day, it’s the only game in its time slot (and one of just two for the day that will be aired on national TV with no streaming login required), and a Nathan Eovaldi–Gerrit Cole pitching matchup should mean lots of heat.

It’s also a chance to see the Yankees debut an entirely new left side of the infield, as Gold Glove-winning shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and third baseman Josh Donaldson don the pinstripes. Eovaldi historically gives up a lot of home runs, so you may also see Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, or some combination of those three hit a baseball to the moon. That’ll do just fine.

2. Mets at Nationals, 4:05 p.m. (EDT) on MLB.tv

Max Scherzer, the best pitcher in Nationals history and a foundational piece for their 2019 World Series team, returns to D.C. with the Nats’ NL East rivals from Flushing. Fair warning: It’s not certain that he’ll make his planned Opening Day start. But if he does, this becomes one of the most attractive games of the day.

Scherzer is a joy to watch in any circumstance—he works quickly, he throws hard, and he wears his heart on his sleeve—but it’ll be especially fun to watch him work against a lineup he knows very well. Whether he’s pitching or not, expect him to get a raucous ovation from the home crowd.

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3. Guardians at Royals, 4:10 p.m. (EDT) on MLB.tv

In the same time slot, consider keeping an eye on a game between two AL Central teams who probably aren’t going anywhere in 2022. The Guardians aren’t interesting, as they’ve entered payroll-slashing mode and aren’t making an effort to be good this year. The Royals are a ways off themselves, but they’re set to debut shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the sport by MLB.com and No. 2 by Fangraphs. Witt alone is worth checking out, and could treat you to a homer, a cannon-armed throw from the hole, a stolen base, or all of the above.

4. Reds at Braves, 8 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN

The Braves start their World Series defense with the lone nighttime, nationally televised Opening Day game on Thursday. You’ll see first baseman Matt Olson, whom the club got from the Oakland A’s to replace franchise icon Freddie Freeman. Olson is the rare first baseman who’s fun to watch both in the field and at the dish. Atlanta continues to await the return of center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who tore his ACL last July before the team’s improbable title run. The Reds are probably going to be a non-factor in 2022, but Joey Votto is eternally one of the most fun hitters to watch. Reigning Rookie of the Year Jonathan India joins him on the right side of the infield.

5. Astros at Angels, 9:38 p.m. (EDT) on MLB.tv

Shohei Ohtani is pitching. And hitting. You may not need anything more than that. But if the MVP isn’t enough, the Angels also have a healthy Mike Trout. This is a chance to watch perhaps the two greatest ballplayers in the world play for one team while also getting a sense of exactly how the Angels will go about missing the postseason yet again.

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