3 MLB Opening Day records that could fall in 2021
Though it’s just one game out of 162, Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn best summed up the feelings surrounding Opening Day when he said, “An opener is not like any other game. There’s that little extra excitement, a faster beating of the heart. You have that anxiety to get off to a good start, for yourself and for the team. You know that when you win the first one, you can’t lose ‘em all.”
It's getting closer...— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 29, 2021
MLB Opening Day, all day on Thursday starting at 1:05 ET.
The starting pitchers in ESPN's 4 games have combined for NINE Cy Young Awards, including five just between these two (Mets at Nationals, 7:09 ET Thursday on ESPN) pic.twitter.com/KtYU47ZyBc
Indeed, for many of the 30 MLB clubs, Opening Day is their World Series. And what better way to begin the year than by breaking a record? Here are three Opening Day records that have the best chance of being shattered in 2021.
Most consecutive Opening Day starts by a catcher for one team
This one is cheating a little bit, as Yadier Molina is poised to break his own record of 16 consecutive Opening Day starts by a catcher for one team.
Molina signed a one-year, $9 million deal to stay with the St. Louis Cardinals for his age-38 season. He’ll be the battery mate for Jack Flaherty when the Redbirds square off with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday afternoon.
Opening Day win percentage
Again, this is a case of a player or team attempting to break their own record.
No team sports a better Opening Day win percentage than the New York Mets at .661. They’re 39-20 all-time in Game 1 of the MLB season. This comes despite their having lost eight straight Opening Day games from 1962 to 1969.
The Mets boasted one of the great Opening Day starters of all-time in Tom Seaver, who took the mound for Game 1 an MLB-record 16 times in his Hall of Fame career. He made 11 of those starts with New York.
Two-time NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom is in line for the Opening Day start for the Mets in 2021, his third straight selection. He’ll face off against Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals on Thursday evening at Nationals Park.
Most strikeouts by a pitcher
Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber jumpstarted his 2020 AL Cy Young campaign with a 14-strikeout performance against the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day last season. It was a brilliant effort, but it fell just short of the all-time record for strikeouts in an Opening Day game.
Camilo Pascual – one of the best strikeout pitchers of the early 1960s – fanned 15 Boston Red Sox batters in a 10-1 Opening Day victory for the Washington Senators on April 18, 1960. It should be noted, however, that Pasqual needed all nine innings to record those 15 strikeouts, while Bieber needed only six to send 14 Royals batsmen packing.
Starting pitchers are treated more carefully than ever, but strikeout numbers are constantly rising. Don’t be surprised if Pascual’s record is broken on Thursday.