Los Angeles – Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is one pitcher who isn’t thrilled to see no-hitters piling up at a remarkable rate this season.
“It’s not good, I’ll tell you that,” Kershaw said after New York Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber became the sixth hurler this season — and second in less than 24 hours — to toss a no-hitter.
The half-dozen no-nos in the first 49 days of the 2021 campaign puts MLB on pace to break 1884’s record of eight in a season.
Just one more will tie the modern-era record of seven, which was achieved in 1990, 1991, 2012 and 2015.
This season’s tally doesn’t even include Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner’s no-hit win over the Atlanta Braves in April. That came in the second game of a doubleheader that was only scheduled for seven innings and therefore won’t count as an official no-hitter. It has been dubbed a “faux-hitter” by some.
Kershaw, whose Hall of Fame credentials includes a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies in 2014, understands the allure for pitchers, but he’s not sure the current dominance from the mound is a good thing for the game.
“No-hitters are cool, and I have all the respect in the world for Corey Kluber and Madison Bumgarner and all those guys who have thrown no-hitters,” Kershaw said. “But to have one happen every night is probably not good for the game.
“Fans want to see some hits, I get that, and some action, and not too many guys striking out.”
Kershaw’s view acknowledges that more than pitching mastery is playing into the current spate of no-hitters, and the race is on to determine exactly what is causing the uptick.
In addition to an increased focus on power pitching, batters are showing themselves to be more willing to strike out without worrying about putting the ball in play.
The sky-high strikeout rate is part of an overall decline in offense, with major league batters hitting a record-low .236 on average.
Home runs are down from a record 1.39 per game in 2019 to 1.14 per game. That’s due in part to intentional changes MLB made this season to “deaden” the ball, which is less than three grams lighter and doesn’t travel quite as far.
Kershaw said the powers that be seem to have “missed the mark” with the tweaks to the ball.
“There might be fewer home runs, which I guess is what they want, but April was one of the worst hitting months in the history of the game,” he said.
While the current pace of no-hitters takes the gloss off the feat for some, they remain a career-defining moment for the pitchers who record them.
Joe Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history in a 3-0 win over the Texas Rangers on April 9 and said it was something he “never dreamed of throwing.”
Chicago White Sox hurler Carlos Rodon flirted with a perfect game but hit a batter on the foot in the ninth inning of his no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians on April 14.
Baltimore’s John Means, who had never pitched a complete game, also came tantalizingly close to a perfect game in his on May 5 against Seattle. The only Seattle baserunner reached on a strike out when the catcher couldn’t corral a wild pitch.
Reds left-hander Wade Miley was left “speechless” after throwing the fourth no-hitter of the season on May 7.
“It’s so far-fetched,” he said.
On Tuesday, Spencer Turnbull became the first Detroit Tigers pitcher since Justin Verlander in 2011 to throw a no-hitter — with the Mariners on the wrong side for the second time this season.
“I don’t really have words right now,” Turnbull said. “It’s probably the best day, the best night of my career. So freakin’ cool.”
Kluber’s turn one day later. His gem was 12th no-hitter in Yankees history and the first since David Cone threw a perfect game against the Montreal Expos in July 1999.
Teammates said the emotion was palpable from the normally stoic Kluber.
“It was this crazy, euphoric feeling,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “I mean, he lifted me off the ground pretty hard. I could tell he was pumped.”
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