The Year of the No-Hitter Has Rendered Them Unimpressive

No-nos aren't exactly meaningless, but they sure ain't what they used to be

Josh Fleming of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches as part of a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians
Josh Fleming of the Rays delivers a pitch during a combined no-hitter.
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty

With another one thrown yesterday, albeit of the non-official variety, no-hitters in Major League Baseball have become no big deal in 2021.

During the second seven-inning game of a doubleheader on Wednesday, five Tampa Bay pitchers (Collin McHugh, Josh Fleming, Diego Castillo, Matt Wisler and Pete Fairbanks) combined to no-hit the Indians during a 4-0 win for the Rays.

Since MLB’s eight-man committee on statistical accuracy decided in 1991 that a no-hitter was a game of nine or more innings that ended with no hits, the game does not officially count as a no-no and, since no-hitters have become commonplace this season, it really isn’t that notable.

(That’s in direct contradiction to the wishes of the Elias Sports Bureau, which suggests that any game of fewer than nine innings in which a pitcher or pitchers do not allow a hit should be considered as a “notable achievement.”)

There have already been seven official no-hitters this season, one shy of the high set in 1884, and, if you count last night’s affair and the seven-inning no-no Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner pitched against Atlanta in the second game of a doubleheader on April 25, the non-official total on the year is nine, a new MLB record.

We aren’t there yet, but given the frequency with which no-hitters have been thrown in 2021, a few of which were certainly aided by the sticky substances pitchers were using on the mound earlier this season that MLB has since banned to much fanfare, the official total at the end of this season — which has yet to hit the All-Star break — will likely set a new official record.

“Mixing and matching, piecing it together, everybody that we asked obviously had really good stuff,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after Wednesday’s seven-inning no-no. “That’s tough to do. Seven innings, nine innings, it’s very tough to do.”

Is it? Apparently not this year.

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