Opening day in North America is tomorrow, April 4th. As with last week’s opener in Japan, doesn’t seem to be a lot of build-up by MLB. To wit, tomorrow’s debut of the Marlins’ new digs will share attention with 12 pre-season games, including at least one that will likely still be in progress when the first pitch is thrown in Miami.

One of the great rites of the start of the baseball season is the naming of opening day starting pitchers. This year’s roster includes several making their first opening day start, including Brandon McCarthyStephen Strasburg, Tommy Hanson, Justin Masterson, Johnny Cueto, John Danks, Colby Lewis, Wandy Rodriguez, Jake Arrieta and Bruce Chen.

Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia (highlighted below) will be moving up the list of pitchers with the most opening day starts, with Halladay moving into a tie for 10th place on that list. Eight of the other 12 pitchers in the top 10 and ties are HOFers with one of the other four a certainty to also make the Hall.

Rk Player #Matching   W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Tom Seaver 16 Ind. Games 7 2 .778 3.13 16 2 0 0 100.2 96 35 8 20 81 1.15
2 Jack Morris 14 Ind. Games 8 6 .571 3.39 14 5 0 0 106.1 99 40 9 39 75 1.30
3 Randy Johnson 14 Ind. Games 7 2 .778 2.49 14 1 1 0 97.2 75 27 9 38 107 1.16
4 Steve Carlton 14 Ind. Games 3 9 .250 4.30 14 2 0 0 92.0 92 44 11 29 66 1.32
5 Robin Roberts 13 Ind. Games 5 7 .417 4.03 13 8 0 0 105.0 101 47 12 23 37 1.18
6 Roger Clemens 13 Ind. Games 6 3 .667 4.08 13 1 0 0 88.1 71 40 6 37 72 1.22
7 Bert Blyleven 12 Ind. Games 3 3 .500 3.21 12 2 0 0 87.0 73 31 7 26 57 1.14
8 Dennis Martinez 11 Ind. Games 2 5 .286 3.65 11 0 0 0 69.0 61 28 10 26 48 1.26
9 Fergie Jenkins 11 Ind. Games 3 4 .429 2.58 11 4 0 0 80.1 65 23 7 11 47 0.95
10 Warren Spahn 10 Ind. Games 4 4 .500 3.10 10 5 1 0 81.1 78 28 8 21 38 1.22
11 Juan Marichal 10 Ind. Games 6 2 .750 1.73 10 6 2 0 83.0 65 16 4 20 57 1.02
12 Bob Gibson 10 Ind. Games 2 2 .500 3.00 10 2 1 0 75.0 61 25 7 23 61 1.12
13 Don Sutton 9 Ind. Games 4 3 .571 2.63 9 3 1 0 65.0 47 19 9 20 44 1.03
14 Rick Sutcliffe 9 Ind. Games 5 3 .625 4.71 9 2 1 0 57.1 53 30 8 26 33 1.38
15 Nolan Ryan 9 Ind. Games 5 3 .625 3.84 9 2 0 0 58.2 44 25 5 28 59 1.23
16 Steve Rogers 9 Ind. Games 2 4 .333 3.43 9 2 2 0 57.2 54 22 2 13 37 1.16
17 Brad Radke 9 Ind. Games 4 2 .667 4.25 9 0 0 0 55.0 62 26 9 7 36 1.25
18 Gaylord Perry 9 Ind. Games 4 3 .571 3.82 9 3 0 0 68.1 61 29 7 13 44 1.08
19 Phil Niekro 9 Ind. Games 0 7 .000 7.31 9 1 0 0 44.1 53 36 9 16 27 1.56
20 Livan Hernandez 9 Ind. Games 4 4 .500 4.45 9 0 0 0 56.2 58 28 5 15 36 1.29
21 Roy Halladay 9 Ind. Games 4 3 .571 3.75 9 0 0 0 60.0 61 25 10 12 46 1.22
22 Mark Buehrle 9 Ind. Games 4 1 .800 3.68 9 0 0 0 51.1 46 21 6 14 20 1.17
23 CC Sabathia 8 Ind. Games 1 1 .500 5.40 8 0 0 0 43.1 47 26 4 19 35 1.52
24 Roy Oswalt 8 Ind. Games 2 4 .333 3.48 8 0 0 0 54.1 55 21 6 10 29 1.20
25 Pedro Martinez 8 Ind. Games 3 1 .750 2.76 8 0 0 0 49.0 37 15 3 12 64 1.00
26 Greg Maddux 8 Ind. Games 6 1 .857 2.10 8 0 0 0 55.2 48 13 3 11 44 1.06
27 Charlie Hough 8 Ind. Games 4 1 .800 3.08 8 2 1 0 52.2 40 18 5 23 28 1.20
28 Dwight Gooden 8 Ind. Games 6 1 .857 3.81 8 2 1 0 54.1 56 23 8 12 42 1.25
29 Tom Glavine 8 Ind. Games 5 3 .625 3.70 8 1 1 0 48.2 44 20 4 17 31 1.25
30 Kevin Appier 8 Ind. Games 1 5 .167 3.80 8 0 0 0 45.0 45 19 4 24 37 1.53
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2012.

 Of these pitchers, Bert Blyleven (MIN, TEX, PIT, CLE, CAL) and Gaylord Perry (SFG, CLE, TEX, SDP, SEA) have made opening day starts with the most franchises. Livan Hernandez (FLA, SFG, MON-WSN, MIN) is right behind them. Nolan Ryan is the only pitcher with at least 3 opening day starts for each of 3 or more different franchises (CAL, HOU, TEX).

Jeremy Guthrie will start for the Rockies on Friday, missing his birthday by 2 days. These are the only times a pitcher has had an opening day start on his birthday.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc ERA WPA RE24 aLI
1 Ryan Drese 2005-04-05 TEX LAA L 2-3 GS-7 ,L 7.0 6 3 3 1 0 1 52 3.86 -0.015 0.625 .824
2 Jon Lieber 2001-04-02 CHC MON L 4-5 GS-7 7.0 6 4 3 1 6 1 56 3.86 -0.048 -0.508 .834
3 Bert Blyleven 1979-04-06 PIT MON L 2-3 GS-7 7.0 5 2 2 2 3 1 60 2.57 0.103 1.453 1.029
4 Catfish Hunter 1976-04-08 NYY MIL L 0-5 GS-7 ,L 7.0 7 5 5 3 2 0 42 6.43 -0.314 -1.961 .541
5 Bert Blyleven 1973-04-06 MIN OAK W 8-3 CG 9 ,W 9.0 10 3 2 2 7 0 62 2.00 0.135 1.087 .701
6 Marty Pattin 1971-04-06 MIL MIN W 7-2 CG 9 ,W 9.0 9 2 2 3 5 0 63 2.00 0.291 2.006 .761
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2012.

 Bruce Chen joins a group of 52 other pitchers making their first opening day start at the age of 34 or older. Of those 52, only these 16 have had a second opening day start.

Rk Player #Matching   W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Charlie Hough 8 Ind. Games 4 1 .800 3.08 8 2 1 0 52.2 40 18 5 23 28 1.20
2 Jamie Moyer 4 Ind. Games 1 2 .333 4.07 4 0 0 0 24.1 28 11 4 5 11 1.36
3 Jerry Koosman 4 Ind. Games 1 1 .500 4.71 4 1 0 0 28.2 31 15 3 7 16 1.33
4 David Wells 3 Ind. Games 1 1 .500 4.41 3 0 0 0 16.1 19 8 2 3 12 1.35
5 Rip Sewell 3 Ind. Games 3 0 1.000 0.00 3 3 3 0 27.0 16 0 0 3 6 0.70
6 Ray Kremer 3 Ind. Games 1 1 .500 4.58 3 1 0 0 17.2 27 9 1 0 5 1.53
7 Woody Williams 2 Ind. Games 0 1 .000 9.00 2 0 0 0 9.0 15 9 3 6 5 2.33
8 Virgil Trucks 2 Ind. Games 1 1 .500 3.00 2 1 1 0 15.0 11 5 2 4 11 1.00
9 Jack Quinn 2 Ind. Games 0 2 .000 4.20 2 1 0 0 15.0 17 7 0 2 4 1.27
10 Fritz Ostermueller 2 Ind. Games 0 0   10.29 2 0 0 0 7.0 9 8 1 4 4 1.86
11 Sal Maglie 2 Ind. Games 2 0 1.000 2.35 2 1 0 0 15.1 11 4 2 6 13 1.11
12 Sam Jones 2 Ind. Games 1 0 1.000 3.86 2 1 0 0 14.0 10 6 1 1 7 0.79
13 Mark Gardner 2 Ind. Games 0 0   4.35 2 0 0 0 10.1 14 5 2 3 10 1.65
14 Ken Forsch 2 Ind. Games 1 0 1.000 1.56 2 1 0 0 17.1 12 3 1 1 12 0.75
15 Spud Chandler 2 Ind. Games 1 1 .500 2.35 2 1 1 0 15.1 13 4 0 2 10 0.98
16 Babe Adams 2 Ind. Games 1 1 .500 4.32 2 0 0 0 16.2 19 8 0 1 5 1.20
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2012.

Among this year’s opening day starters, only Roy Halladay has previously had a hit in an opening day game. Here are the opening day pitchers who have helped their own cause most often, showing the games in which they got a hit.

Rk Player #Matching   PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH
1 Juan Marichal 6 Ind. Games 19 16 8 2 0 0 3 1 3 .500 .529 .625 1.154 2
2 Livan Hernandez 5 Ind. Games 14 13 6 0 0 0 2 0 1 .462 .462 .462 .923 1
3 Dwight Gooden 5 Ind. Games 16 15 5 0 0 0 2 0 5 .333 .333 .333 .667 1
4 Tom Glavine 5 Ind. Games 13 12 7 1 0 0 1 0 1 .583 .583 .667 1.250 1
5 Wes Ferrell 5 Ind. Games 22 21 8 1 0 0 6 1 2 .381 .409 .429 .838 0
6 Pete Alexander 5 Ind. Games 15 14 8 2 1 1 5 1 1 .571 .600 1.071 1.671 0
7 Lon Warneke 4 Ind. Games 16 15 4 0 0 0 3 0 1 .267 .267 .267 .533 1
8 Bob Lemon 4 Ind. Games 12 12 4 0 0 1 1 0 2 .333 .333 .583 .917 0
9 Sad Sam Jones 4 Ind. Games 13 9 6 2 1 0 2 3 1 .667 .769 1.111 1.880 0
10 Don Drysdale 4 Ind. Games 13 11 4 0 1 2 3 2 4 .364 .462 1.091 1.552 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2012.

Finally, none of this year’s opening day starters are rookies. In fact, it has been a very long time since any pitcher made his career debut as an opening day starter. These are the only ones to do it.

Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc ERA
1 1 Al Gerheauser 1943-04-24 PHI BRO L 4-11  L 4.0 7 5 5 3 2 0 27 11.25
2 1 Jim Bagby 1938-04-18 BOS NYY W 8-4  W 6.0 5 4 3 6 5 0 47 4.50
3 1 Lefty Grove 1925-04-14 PHA BOS W 9-8   3.2 6 5 4 4 0 0 27 9.82
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2012

For Gerheauser, the last to do this, it would be his only opening day start.

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