Arrieta became 33rd starter to take a no-hitter through at least six innings this season
By Paul Casella
Jake Arrieta became the latest starter to throw a no-hitter on Sunday night in what is quickly becoming not only the year of the no-hitter, but also the year of the near no-no.
Though Arrieta was the sixth starting pitcher this season to be successful in his no-hit bid, he was the 33rd to not allow a hit through at least six innings. That's already two more than last season -- and only one shy of the highest total over the last 11 seasons.
The most no-hitters taken into the seventh inning during that span is 34, which came in 2013. Only three of those 34 games, however, resulted in no-hitters, courtesy of Homer Bailey, Tim Lincecum and Henderson Alvarez.
6+ IP by SP
*Through Aug. 30
The 33 no-hitters taken through six innings by a starting pitcher this season puts this league on pace to easily surpass that total. In fact, the league is currently on pace for 41 such games overall, which would be the highest total since that same number was achieved in 2003.
Despite those 41 starters not allowing a hit for at least two-thirds of the game in 2003, however, only one (Kevin Millwood) completed an actual no-hitter. There were two no-hitters overall that season, though one was a combined effort by the Astros after starter Roy Oswalt pitched only one inning.
That's been far from the case this season, as six pitchers -- Arrieta, Mike Fiers, Hisashi Iwakuma, Cole Hamels, Max Scherzer and Chris Heston -- have already penciled their names into the history books. Those six no-hitters match the single-season record for individual no-hitters and are only one shy of the single-season record of seven no-hitters, including combined efforts, achieved in 1990, 1991 and 2012.
While pitchers have more than a full month remaining to break that record, it would have already fallen if not for a quartet of potential no-hitters being snapped in the ninth inning this season.
Two starters, Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco and Atlanta's Shelby Miller, came within one out of history in their respective no-hit bids. The first came on May 17, when Miller held the Marlins hitless through 8 2/3 innings before Justin Bour singled up the middle. Carrasco joined Miller a month-and-a-half later when he lost a July 1 no-hit bid against the Rays on Joey Butler's lined single.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander also carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning just last week, though Angels catcher Chris Iannetta wasted no time in snapping it with a leadoff double that kicked up chalk down the left-field line. As for that fourth close call, the Indians came within two outs of a combined no-hitter back on April 9 against the Astros before Jed Lowrie connected for a solo home run off of reliever Nick Hagadone.
And those are just the closest of all the close calls fans have been treated to this season.
Along with the 10 no-hitters taken into the ninth inning -- the four that were lost, as well as the six that were successful -- another seven starters have lost potential no-hitters in the eighth inning and 16 others had their hopes dashed in the seventh.
In addition to coming within one out of a no-hitter, Miller also lost a no-hit bid with no outs in the eighth inning on Aug. 16 against the D-backs. Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada has had a couple of close calls of his own, taking no-hitters into the eighth inning of back-to-back starts on June 19 and June 24 before losing them with no outs and one out, respectively.
Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber has also had a pair of no-hit bids snapped with two outs in the seventh inning, on May 13 and Aug. 9. Arrieta's teammate, Jon Lester, has also had multiple close calls, tossing 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball on July 6 then seven hitless innings on July 18. Even Scherzer completed six no-hit innings on June 14 en route to tossing a one-hitter in the start directly before his June 20 no-hitter.
It's obviously impossible to predict when the next no-hitter will come or who will be responsible for it, but it seems safe to say that fans haven't seen at least the last close call this season.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.