Marcus Stroman won't pitch Opening Day, Yankees yet to name starter

Marcus Stroman will not be the Yankees' Opening Day starting pitcher at the Houston Astros on March 28, but he appears to be in line to pitch the home opener at Yankee Stadium a week later.

The 32-year-old seemed the logical choice to climb the hill on Opening Day in Houston once Gerrit Cole’s right elbow ailment derailed his ramp-up to an AL Cy Young defense in 2024.

However, Stroman told reporters after Thursday’s spring training start that – despite approaches from general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone – it was agreed that it was too late in the spring to adjust his schedule for him to be able to make the first start. The right-hander will instead start the third game of the season.

Boone announced on Wednesday that left-hander Carlos Rodon is penciled in as the Yanks’ starter in game two of the season.

That leaves only Clarke Schmidt and Nestor Cortes as the most likely options to be the starter on March 28, but, with both scheduled to pitch Friday, there is the possibility the club will opt for a bullpen game to start the 2024 campaign.

Boone said Schmidt or Cortes "could be" the starter when asked on Thursday, adding that he has a preference in mind, but wants to see how things play out.

"I've decided who's starting. I just want a few more days to go off the clock because a lot can happen still," the skipper said, via The Athletic's Chris Kirschner.

Stroman told reporters he is due to start the Yankees' home opener on Friday, April 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays after playing the first two series on the road.

After signing on a two-year, $37 million deal this offseason, the Long Island native said he was excited for the opportunity to pitch in front of his hometown fans.

“I grew up going to Yankee games, so to be able to put on the pinstripes, that’s something we all dream about as a kid. I’m excited to feel the energy and the buzz from Yankee fans,” Stroman said in January.

“Sometimes when you have those moments in that city with that buzz, energy, and pressure it brings out a different animal, so I’m excited about that possibility. My start days are something that I’m getting chills thinking about looking forward to.”

Stroman had started Opening Day three times in his career, most recently last season for the Cubs at Wrigley Field, when he allowed no runs on three hits over six innings pitched. The righty has pitched to a 1.29 ERA over 21 innings on 11 hits in the first game of the season with 20 strikeouts and eight walks.

Not messing with his routine entering the year could be a good thing as Stroman got off to a stellar start to last campaign, pitching to a 2.28 ERA (3.33 FIP) in 98.2 innings over his first 16 starts of the year.

He began to cool off in late June and never found his form as he struggled with a rib injury that kept him out for six weeks, appearing in 11 games (nine starts) the remainder of the season and pitching to an 8.29 ERA (4.23 FIP) in his final 38 innings of the season.