Go Figure: Take 5 (On the heels of Carlos Rodon's no-hitter)
Consider this peculiar juxtaposition of famous flame-throwing Texas natives who dominated major league batters for a combined half-century and over the course of 10,000-plus innings:
Nolan Ryan threw seven no-hitters and won zero Cy Young Awards, while Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards and threw zero no-hitters.
That's Exhibit A in the Case of No-Hit Fickleness, Randomness & All-Around Topsy-Turviness.
Although Hall of Famers and All-Stars throw no-hitters at a higher rate than their more ordinary peers, humble names like Alec Mills (Cubs, 2020) and Philip Humber (White Sox, 2012) permeate this exclusive list of 307 no-hitters in MLB history.
There's a simple reason why: So many more middle-of-the-road pitchers take the mound every day than do the genuine standouts.
To which category does Sox lefty Carlos Rodon belong? Despite two strong outings early -- including his no-hit performance against Cleveland Wednesday -- his overall career cries out "Average Joe" (so far).
Here are related thoughts:
1. Though hitting Roberto Perez with one out in the ninth inning may have spoiled Rodon's perfect game, it may have saved his no-hitter. (It was the 20th in White Sox annals, second behind only the Dodgers' 26 among all MLB franchises.)
Who's to say Perez doesn't get a hit later in the at-bat? Maybe he grinds out a walk, thus erasing the perfecto? Perez had walked eight times in his eight prior games. And before Wednesday, the Cleveland catcher had reached base nine times in 12 plate appearances against left-handers.
2. Rodon won't throw another complete game this year.
This is hardly going out on a limb. Rodon had thrown only one complete game in his prior 93 starts -- and none in his last 74 going back to his 2015 rookie season. The only way he has a realistic shot of doing it again in '21 is a seven-inning doubleheader.
3. In his next start, Rodon will turn in a solid performance. That is scheduled Monday morning in Boston on Patriots' Day.
He has an 0-3 career record against Boston, despite a respectable 3.86 earned run average. He's due to get in the win column vs. the Red Sox.
For an intriguing look at how pitchers have fared in their first start after hurling a no-hitter (it's a mixed bag), check out J.G. Preston's blog at tinyurl.com/Post-No-No.
4. If he stays healthy, Rodon has a legitimate shot at making the All-Star team.
Yes, that's one big "if," given Rodon's shoulder and Tommy John surgeries since 2017. But the psychological boost of having a no-hitter in your back pocket? There's no metric that can capture that.
This is also compelling: Rodon's 14 scoreless innings through two starts. He is finally matching the promise that led to the Sox selecting him third in the 2014 draft.
5. If he flames out, Rodon would be the 2020s version of Dallas Braden.
In 2010, Braden was the 26-year-old Oakland pitcher who threw a perfect game. A year later, he was done, ending his career at 26-36. Tellingly, Rodon (31-33 career mark) and Braden are in each other's Top 7 for "Similarity Scores," according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Q: What do Johnny Vander Meer, Allie Reynolds, Virgil Trucks, Nolan Ryan and Max Scherzer have in common?
A: They are the only MLB pitchers to throw two no-hitters in the same regular season. Vander Meer was the first, and he did it in back-to-back games in June 1938. (Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay did it twice in 2010, with the second coming in the playoffs.)
• Matt Baron supplements his baseball brainpower with Retrosheet.org for research.