Oakland Athletics Opening Day lineup: will we see a new Nick Allen?

The Oakland Athletics are set to face off against the Cleveland Guardians tonight

Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks
Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

Opening Day is finally here! The Oakland Athletics are set to take on the Cleveland Guardians tonight. Lefty Alex Wood will take on Guardians' ace Shane Bieber, with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 pm PST. The game will be available on NBC Sports California, as well as on radio (103.7) and A's Cast.

Bieber is a tough draw for an A's team that finished last in MLB with just 585 runs scored in 2023. In a bit of a down year, Bieber pitched to a 3.80 ERA with a career low 20.1% strikeout rate in 128 innings. The righty spent 72 days on the IL due to elbow inflammation and didn't look himself all year.

After a significant period of rest, Bieber looked like the old version of himself during spring training. 19 strikeouts to 7 walks in 17.1 innings with a 1.56 ERA will do the trick.

It'll be up to the Athletics offense to make him work deep into counts and try to get him out of the game early on. Not that the Guardians' bullpen is anything to sneeze at but if Bieber is on, the A's could be in for a rough night.

Athletics' manager Mark Kotsay sends first baseman Ryan Noda out in the leadoff spot tonight. In 97 plate appearances as the leadoff man in 2023, Noda hit .247/.340/.435. The A's need that kind of on base percentage at the top of the lineup and if Noda can carry his success over from last year, he's a great option to hit leadoff on most nights.

Nick Allen gets the start at shortstop tonight and should be the primary option there for the first several weeks of the season. The 25 year old is a wizard with the glove but has struggled at the plate the past two years.

Allen changed his approach coming into the offseason and the work has paid off. While working around a back injury, he hit .261/.357/.565 in 11 games. That would be a vast improvement over his career line of .214/.260/.289 in Oakland.

With any luck, Allen can keep the momentum going and put up some strong plate appearances early on in the season. If he can inspire a little confidence in the bat, it'll be a massive boost to this team. He draws a tough first opponent but to be honest, there's no better test to see if Allen can prove himself.