Justin Verlander’s third no-hitter puts him in elite historic company and on track for his second Cy Young award
On Sunday, Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander against the Toronto Blue Jays. Verlander dominated, striking out 14 batters and permitting just one baserunner, which came on a walk to Cavan Biggio, the second hitter he faced. It was his third career no-no, which puts him in the kind of company one keeps when one is an elite talent.
Consider that Verlander is now tied for the third-most no-hitters of all-time, trailing only Nolan Ryan (seven) and Sandy Koufax (four). As for the pitchers Verlander is tied with, it’s a group that includes Larry Corcoran, Cy Young, and Bob Feller. That’s it; that’s the entire class.
Pitchers with three or more no-hitters
1. Nolan Ryan – 7
2. Sandy Koufax – 4
T3. Justin Verlander – 3
T3. Cy Young – 3
T3. Bob Feller – 3
T3. Larry Corcoran – 3
Let’s frame it a different way: five other pitchers in history have thrown at least as many no-hitters as Verlander has to date, and they’re all considered some of the best pitchers the sport has ever seen — save Corcoran, whose work came in the 1800s. Heck, one of those pitchers literally serves as the namesake of the top pitching award.
Verlander is familiar with that award, too, having won it before in 2011. He could very well be on the verge of bringing home another later this year.
Verlander entered Sunday with a 2.69 ERA (167 ERA+) and 7.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season. He’s now amassed 193 innings on the year across 29 starts, and has notched a quality start in 22 of those attempts. Dating back to the All-Star Game, he’s started 10 times and has allowed more than two runs in an outing just once. That’s impressive.
Of course Verlander does have some competition for the American League Cy Young Award, especially through the prism of the various advanced metrics out there. Mike Minor led him by nearly a win entering Sunday per Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement metric, and Lance Lynn had an even wider lead per FanGraphs’ version. Yet Verlander is the AL leader in WARP, or Baseball Prospectus’s catch-all measure. This is without mentioning other worthy competitors — like teammate Gerrit Cole or Charlie Morton — which speaks to how wide the field is this year.
If Verlander finds his way to the top of ballots — and perhaps an outing like Sunday’s will help him overcome whatever differences exist in numbers — he’ll become the 20th pitcher to ever claim multiple Cy Young Awards. (For the curious: Koufax won three; Ryan never won any.)
Factor in Verlander’s postseason performances — he’s thrown 152 innings of 3.19 ERA ball for his career, with another playoff trip ahead of him — and it’s clear that he’s one of the best pitchers in recent memory. Even if Verlander never wins another Cy Young, or throws another no-no, he’s done more than enough to ensure his eventual induction into Cooperstown.