Twenty-four hours earlier, Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers did the same.
The two players accomplished what one can only assume is a lifelong goal for any pitcher, and nothing can diminish that.
Granted, these were the fifth and sixth no-hitters of the 2021 MLB season.
If you want to throw Madison Bumgarner’s unofficial seven-inning no-hitter in there, that makes seven.
It’s May 20.
For context, there were two no-hitters during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, four no-hitters during the full-length 2019 season, three no-hitters during the 2018 season, and just one no-hitter during each of the 2017 and 2016 seasons.
In other words, we’ve never seen anything like this before.
What’s Going On?
There is really no denying that if no-hitters continue at this rate, the meaningfulness will get watered down.
We have a problem when a pitcher like Turnbull doesn’t even get to enjoy his moment for a full 24 hours before someone else steals the thunder.
Clayton Kershaw’s full quote on MLB’s recent run of no hitters and The State Of Offense: pic.twitter.com/tSSHYrzl2K
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) May 20, 2021
It’s pretty well-documented that MLB deadened the baseballs prior to the season.
The league came out and said in a memo that the difference would be subtle, and that the new balls would fly 1 to 2 feet shorter when hit over 375 feet.
This season, we have seen far fewer home runs and a dips in scoring and batting as a whole.
Attributing all of that to the deadened baseballs is not sound logic if the aforementioned memo the league released about the balls is accurate.
Instead, a more likely thesis as to what got us here is a combination of the approach hitters are taking and the growing dominance of pitching.
The average fastball velocity generally increases each season, and developing pitchers have put an emphasis on velocity for years now.
As far as batting goes, we’re in an era in sports where efficiency means everything.
In basketball, the mid-range shot is essentially dead, because on average, it returns fewer points per possession than a high-percentage shot at the rim or a three-point shot.
In the same way, batters today want extra bases and homers, and they are willing to exchange strikeouts for it.
League-wide strikeout numbers go up almost every season, as do home runs.
Couple this all-or-nothing batting approach with a dominant era of pitching and you get six (arguably seven) no-hitters in the first two months of the season, apparently.
There have been 6 no-hitters this year: 2 each against Cleveland, Seattle and Texas.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 20, 2021
The modern record for no-hitters is seven in a season.
Right now, we are on pace 25 no-hitters in 2021 if you include Bumgarner’s and 21 if you don’t.
It feels unlikely that we will get even remotely close to either of those figures, but if we do, no-hitters would become virtually meaningless by the end of the year.
That can’t be what the league wants, and it’s certainly not what fans want.
This is an issue without a clear solution, because you can’t exactly interfere with the way the game is evolving.
Although the deadened baseballs really aren’t the root of the problem, it will be interesting to see if MLB reverses course and puts the old balls back in play after the season.
That’s one way the league could acknowledge that something unsustainable is going on.