A a sixth-round pick out of Southern California by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015 who wound up with the Diamondbacks at the end of last year after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020, pitcher Tyler Gibson didn’t play organized baseball last season after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor leagues.
To make ends meet, the 27-year-old spent the summer doing electrical work alongside his father before returning to baseball this season, when he posted a 3.44 ERA with 50 strikeouts and 19 walks in 52⅓ Triple-A innings before being called up to the big leagues by the D-Backs.
Following three appearances as a reliever, Gibson took the mound for his first ever start in the majors, and he was electric, blanking the hot-hitting Padres with a no-hitter on Saturday night.
The fourth player to throw a no-hitter in his first career start and the third Diamondback to accomplish the feat, Gilbert tossed MLB’s eighth no-hitter of 2021, tying baseball’s all-time record for a season.
While many of us, including MLB strikeout king Nolan Ryan, feel like no-hitters have lost their luster due to their increased frequency and may have become baseball’s version of the NBA’s triple-double, Gilbert’s blanking of the Padres is impressive and worth celebrating for a number of reasons.
First of all, Gilbert’s gem on Saturday came against a San Diego team that collected 11 hits on Sunday against Arizona en route to an 8-2 win. San Diego was playing without Fernando Tatis Jr. (who homered twice and drove in four runs in his return from the injured list on Sunday) on Saturday. The Padre lineup is still potent, and Gilbert completely shutting it down while hurling for a last-place team is quite an accomplishment.
Second, Gilbert’s no-hitter is the first one — other than the combined effort by Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel for the Cubs on June 24 — to be thrown since MLB started cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances like Spider-Tack on the mound to help increase the spin rate on the baseball and make it much more difficult to hit. In addition to being impressive because the no-hitter came in his first career start, Gilbert’s shut down of San Diego stands out because we can be fairly confident it came without the aid of the sticky substances that many, if not all, of the previous pitchers to throw solo no-hitters this season (San Diego’s Joe Musgrove, Carlos Rodón of the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore’s John Means, Cincinnati’s Wade Miley, Detroit’s Spencer Turnbull and Corey Kluber of the New York Yankees), were probably using.
Finally, Gilbert throwing MLB’s eighth no-hitter of the season deserves to be celebrated because he spent last season crawling around attics and in between walls while learning to be an electrician from his father.
“Crazy,” Gilbert said afterward. “It’s not going to hit me for probably another day. I don’t know what just happened. It was weird, I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt like I should have been. I don’t know why. I just kept going out there and doing my thing. I was really nervous before the game, leading up to the game. But after the three-pitch eighth inning, I was like, ‘This is possibly going to happen.’ I’d rather be doing this than pulling wires. No offense, Dad.”
If Gilbert can continue to pitch with anything approaching the spark he showed on Saturday, the left-hander’s days of pulling wires are probably over — and that’s something we can all feel good about.