MLB Opening Day 2022 – What we’re watching, live updates and takeaways as baseball returns

The start of the 2022 MLB season has finally arrived!

Starting with seven Opening Day games on Thursday and continuing with the rest of MLB in action on Friday, it’s time to welcome another year on the diamond. To celebrate the return of baseball, we asked our experts to vote on what they’re most looking forward to watching and make a fearless prediction for opening day.

Once the games have started, be sure to refresh this page early and often for our live updates and takeaways from every Opening Day game on Thursday and Friday.

Season preview: Power Ranks | Predictions | Moves that rocked the offseason
ESPN+: Passan’s predictions | How Opening Day Was Saved | 2022 changes
Player: ESPN Opening Day Classic | ESPN Fantasy Baseball: Join Free!

Thursday Opening Day Program

All times Eastern

2:20 p.m.: Brewers (Burnes) at Cubs (Hendricks)
4:10 p.m .: Guardians (Bieber) at Royals (Greinke)
4:15 p.m .: Pirates (Brubaker) at Cardinals (Wainwright)
7:05 p.m. on ESPN+: Mets (TBD) at Nationals (Corbin)
8:00 p.m. on ESPN2: Reds (Mahle) at Braves (Fried)
9:38 p.m .: Astros (Valdez) at Angels (Ohtani)
9:40 p.m.: Padres (Darvish) at Diamondbacks (Bumgarner)

Opening Friday: Red Sox-Yankees, White Sox-Tigers, A’s-Phillies, Orioles-Rays, Dodgers-Rockies, Mariners-Twins, Marlins-Giants and Rangers-Blue Jays

Opening Day predictions and what we can’t wait to see

What’s the thing you’re most looking forward to watching on opening day?

Bradford Doolittle: I’m in Minneapolis for a Twins-Mariners series that was pushed back a day due to inhospitable early spring weather. The upside is that I get two open days and can watch Bobby Witt Jr.’s Kansas City debut on some screen on Thursday before seeing Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez on Friday. We haven’t always seen the most exciting prospects on Opening Day (Witt is No. 2 and Rodriguez is No. 3 on Kiley McDaniel’s Top 100 Prospects list), so that’s a wonderful thing. A big American League Rookie of the Year race is underway.

Jesse Rogers: The debut of Cubs rookie Seiya Suzuki. He’s a multi-tool player with all-around power and a one-arm flare. As noted in the recent collective bargaining battle, most rookies don’t make a lot of money – but Suzuki signed a five-year, $85 million deal this offseason, so all eyes will be on him in the world of baseball. He has a chance to be the next big star on a team suddenly bereft of them. Thursday is his first chance to show fans all over Chicago what they’re getting.

David Schoenfield: Perhaps the most fascinating team to watch in April may be the Padres. There’s a lot of pressure on a team that now manages one of the highest payrolls in baseball and is coming off a losing season. They crumbled on the stretch, and while the rotation is healthy again, the Padres will have to play a few months without Fernando Tatis Jr. So on opening day, I want to see what Yu Darvish looks like after spending 1 -8 (6.16 ERA) in the second half. I want to see how new manager Bob Melvin sets up his late game bullpen. I want to see if Ha-Seong Kim can not only replace Tatis but strike like he did in Korea after struggling in his first season. I want to see who Manny Machado appears. The Padres start with 14 games against the Diamondbacks, Giants, Rangers and Pirates – a golden opportunity to get off to a good start and put the disappointment of 2021 behind them.

Joon Lee: I’m with David on this one. The Padres are at a fascinating inflection point in AJ Preller’s tenure with Tatis’ injury and the level of financial investment in the core of this team. According to multiple sources, the Padres’ club chemistry has suffered under Jayce Tingler, so the addition of Melvin will completely upset the team’s locker room dynamic. Interested to see which Darvish performs on opening day and how former Cy Young winner Blake Snell fares in his second season in San Diego after struggling to get similar numbers to his tenure in Tampa Bay. Especially after Eric Hosmer’s failed trade and Tatis’ injury, the team will need their high-paying players to play better in 2022.

Buster Olney: I’m in Atlanta and I’ll be fascinated to see new first baseman Matt Olson’s reception — and I expect it to be strong and lasting. If someone is to replace Freddie Freeman in the first place, Olson is the ideal candidate given his local roots, his age, his power. If the Braves’ magic script from last year’s World Series is still in play, then Olson will get a killer hit — and Atlanta fans will go nuts. What a story that would be.

Coley Harvey: I am beyond excited to join Buster in my hometown of Atlanta, where I will have a front row seat to a coronation that has been a generation in the making. And as a lifelong believer in all things ATL, 404, Chick-fil-A, and Waffle House, the 10-year-old boy in me still can’t believe that one of his city’s pro teams is finally about to have another banner- rising night. Braves championships in 1995 and 2021 and Atlanta United’s MLS title in 2018 are all we have! After the 28-3 memes and jokes, the city too busy to hate deserves more than celebrating last October’s World Series victory once again. The Atlantans deserved it.

Alden Gonzalez: I’ll be at Angel Stadium on Thursday, and because of that, I’ll be the luckiest of us all. Shohei Ohtani will be on the mound and he’ll be in the lineup, starting what promises to be another exciting season as a two-way player. The discussion around Angel Camp this spring has centered around whether Ohtani can actually be better this year, given how he’s improved as a pitcher and how he’s become more familiar with the two-way role over the season. It seems impossible – until you realize how special this man is.

Tim Keown: The Mets teamed Max Scherzer with Jacob deGrom, and the opening-day starter is … Tylor Megill. Next to the Pirates’ JT Brubaker, Megill is the most non-Opening Day starter on Opening Day. Even Oakland has Frankie Montas, though there’s a chance he’ll be traded before Friday’s first pitch in Philadelphia. It might not mean much – Scherzer is supposed to be back soon, maybe even for Game 2 – but it certainly sounds like an omen.

It’s time to call your shot: what’s your opening day prediction that absoutely to come true?

Doolittle: Albert Pujols is going to make a circuit in Saint-Louis. Even if it turns out to be the only homer he hits all season, there’s no way it won’t happen. There are plenty of young Cardinals fans in St. Louis who only heard of Pujols from their parents. It’s great that they get to experience him this year as he steps down from a Hall of Fame career.

Roger: Corbin Burnes will hit the Cubs in one hit – and Suzuki will be the only hitter to reach it. Chicago has little left-handed pop, while right-handed opponents have compiled a miniscule .179 batting average against it in 2021. With a right-handed player at first base and right field – two positions often reserved for power hitting lefties – – the Cubs will be at a disadvantage against the best right-handers all season. Trying to hit against Burnes on Thursday, in 40-degree weather, will make things even more difficult.

Schoenfield: Machado got off to a slow start in 2021, but with Tatis out, the Padres need him to hit right off the bat. He hasn’t hit Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner so well in his career (.212/.257/.515), although three of his seven hits have been home runs. I say he goes MadBum twice as the Padres win their first game.

Olney: He won’t pitch on opening day, but I’ll call it the last year future Hall of Famer Jacob deGrom is with the Mets. Steve Cohen has demonstrated that he’s ready and willing to invest in any way he thinks can help the Mets, but there are simply too many variables involved for deGrom to return – questions about his health now, his health in the future, and most importantly, What he wants. We’ll come back to his claim that he’s opting out of his contract despite his recent injury as the first real signal that he’s heading elsewhere.

González: Rodriguez and Witt Jr. will hit each of the homers in their major league debuts. Both highlight what looks like an incredibly deep AL Rookie of the Year field, along with Spencer Torkelson. Eventually, Adley Rutschman and Riley Greene will join them. Not on this list: Wander Franco, who passed his rookie eligibility last year but will play his first full season in 2022. He could be the biggest star of them all. The young talent in the sport is amazing right now – and I only represent one league.

Keown: We will all be reminded that Mike Trout not only exists but remains the best player in the sport. The eyes of the game will be on Shohei Ohtani to start the Angels’ opener against the Astros, but come the end of the fourth or fifth inning, it will be Trout’s night.

Li: Shohei Ohtani will come out strong from the gates on opening day, showing that last year was no mirage and that it is possible to throw and hit at a high level over multiple seasons – and opening up the idea that teams could potentially develop more two-way players, not necessarily at Ohtani’s level, but to maximize the value of each roster spot.

Harvey: OK, so Austin Riley’s performance in the Grapefruit League wasn’t the strongest (.214, 6 for 28), but I’m counting on him a lot for a big opening night. That will happen in what will be his first game at Truist Park since the World Series. At home in the playoffs, he hit .419 (13 for 31) with five extra hits. He will once again exploit that striking success in front of another loud and frantic Atlanta crowd, giving the fans some late-inning magic.