On Wednesday night, Corey Kluber threw the 311th no-hitter in MLB history and the 12th no-hitter in franchise history, the first since 1999. This marks the sixth no-hitter of the major-league season; seven if you include Madison Bumgarner’s seven-inning no-hitter. That means we’re on pace for 18-plus no-nos this season!
Kluber’s performance comes a mere one night after the Tigers’ Spencer Turnbull no-hit the Mariners in Seattle. This marks the first time that no-nos have been thrown on consecutive days since 1969. The funny thing is, the six no-hitters have all been on the road, and they have all come against a combined three different teams: the Rangers, the Indians, and the Mariners. I can’t imagine it feels good to be no-hit twice at your home ballpark within a month. The last time this many no-hitters had been thrown at this point in a season was over a century ago: way back in 1917. Just take a look at the percentage of games that have been no-hitters, and keep in mind this graph was created before Turnbull and Kluber’s performances:
Obviously, there is a bigger discussion about why so many no-hitters are occurring this season — most likely due to the deadened ball and launch-angle-driven approach for hitters. But that’s for another time. I want to focus on celebrating Kluber. While this feat has been somewhat devalued this season, it is still an impressive accomplishment. For one, starting pitchers are throwing fewer and fewer innings per start — throwing a complete game nowadays is an accomplishment in itself! A complete-game shutout? Even better.
So even while what Kluber did last night has become commonplace in 2021, we must remember what it means for Kluber himself. This man pitched only one inning in 2020 and only 35.2 innings the year before that. He had fractured his right arm, had abdominal tightness, and then tore his teres major muscle in his shoulder. And coming into this season, he was turning 35 years old. While many believed he could still be a serviceable pitcher, many also counted him out given his injury history, age, and pitching style in an age where velocity is king. In fact, his average velocity on his fastball so far this year has been the lowest of his career at 90.4 miles per hour. And yet he is still pitching to a 2.86 ERA. And he just did this: