Was Jake Arrieta's No-Hitter the Best Pitching Performance of the Season?
This baseball season is quickly becoming the new "Year of the No-Hitter."
On Sunday Night Baseball in Los Angeles, Chicago's Jake Arrieta threw the season's sixth no-hitter of the year, joining Cole Hamels, Chris Heston, Max Scherzer (perfect game), Mike Fiers and Hisashi Iwakuma in tossing a no-no. He did it while walking just one Dodger hitter and striking out 12.
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) August 31, 2015
Of course, no-hitting the Dodgers has lost a little bit of its luster. After all, it was the second time in just 10 days that L.A. was no-hit (Fiers shut them down on August 21). According to ESPN Stats & Info, the last team to be no-hit in a shorter span was the 1923 Philadelphia A's, who were no-hit a mere three days apart.
And while the Dodgers are still in first place in the NL West, the only team to win the World Series after being no-hit twice in the same season is the 1917 White Sox.
But more on the Dodgers' side of the story in a moment. First, a look at what Arrieta did on Sunday night. Below is a chart of the highest Game Scores of the season so far.
|Chris Sale||White Sox||92||8||2||0||0||14|
Arrieta's Game Score of 98 was tied with Hamels' and Heston's no-nos for the second-best pitching performance of the season, along with a masterful eight inning, one-hit, 18-strikeout performance by Corey Kluber. Scherzer's nine-inning one-hitter earned a Game Score of 100 and is still the best performance of 2015, ranking even better than his no-hitter, which registered a Game Score of 97.
Now, while Arrieta was dominant, there is some question as to whether this should have even been a no-hitter after this play was ruled an error by the official scorer.
— Miguel Campos (@Phillysports25) August 31, 2015
That sure looked like a hit to me, but in the end, it goes down as the 14th no-hitter in franchise history, and the first since Carlos Zambrano's in 2008.
In 183 innings this season, Arrieta has an ERA of 2.11 with a FIP of 2.48, striking out 9.34 batters per nine (K/9) and walking 2.16 (BB/9). And he certainly ended the month as the odds-on favorite for Pitcher of the Month for August.
Jake Arrieta in August (6 starts) 6-0, 0.43 ERA 42 1/3 IP, 19 hits allowed
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 31, 2015
There has been some debate whether Arrieta or Jon Lester will get the start for the Cubs in their inevitable wild card match-up with the Pittsburgh Pirates after the two teams win the NL wild card slots. But given how hot he's been, and Lester's issues throwing to first base, it should be clear that Arrieta is the guy who should get the ball.
Since coming to Chicago, Arrieta has been a different pitcher. Last year he put up an ERA of 2.53 and an fWAR of 5.0 in 156 2/3 innings. But prior to that, he had put up ERAs of 4.78, 6.20, 5.05 and 4.66 with his original team, the Baltimore Orioles. Since joining the Cubs, he's thrown his fastball far less frequently than he did with the O's (16.8% of the time in 2015 compared to 43.5% in 2011), and his devastating slider a whole lot more (29.3% in '15, 13.8% in 2013).
As for the Dodgers, they have some problems. Their top two hitters, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were great at the top of the lineup in 2008, when they helped lead the Phillies to a World Series title. But in 2015, their .274 and .285 on-base percentages don't exactly provide much for the heart of the lineup to get worked up about. And with Joc Pederson continuing to struggle (.158/.331/.284 slash line in the second half of the season), there are some major holes in that lineup.
But take heart, Dodgers. Getting no-hit 10 days apart is nothing compared to this.
ELIAS: Fewest days between being no-hit for a team -- 1. The 1917 White Sox were no-hit by Ernie Koob, Bob Groom on May 5-6.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 31, 2015
And speaking of history, we are one more no-hitter away from tying the record for most no-nos thrown in one year, seven, done in 1990 and 1991.
If the Dodgers don't get their offensive problems fixed, there's a good chance they'll be able to help a few more guys try to break that record.