The Rangers officially announced Hamels as their No. 1 starter on Twitter on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old Hamels was acquired by the Rangers last season on July 31 in a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. He posted a 3.66 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 83.2 innings after the move, helping Texas win its first American League West title since 2011.
Hamels was the Rangers' starting pitcher in their must-win game on the last day of the season, tossing a complete-game three-hitter in a 9-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. He made two starts against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series, allowing four earned runs with 14 strikeouts and two walks in 13.1 innings.
If Darvish were healthy, his resume and dominant stuff would likely have given him the edge over Hamels to start on Opening Day. He's being carefully managed by the team, throwing 31 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday, and he won't face live hitters until he's able to throw between 50 and 55 pitches, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Hamels is certainly no stranger to taking the ball for a season opener, previously getting the honor as a member of the Phillies in 2013 and 2015, per Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake.
Blake also noted the Rangers have used seven different Opening Day starters in the last seven seasons. Hamels has proved himself to be one of the best and most consistent pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Hamels may no longer be the Cy Young Award contender from his peak days in Philadelphia, but his evolution as a pitcher to keep hitters off balance before setting them up with his devastating changeup will keep him playing at a high level for a long time.