On Opening Day, Max Scherzer pitched 5.2 innings of no-hit ball before allowing his first hit to a New York Mets batter. It would be a sign of things to come for Scherzer in his first season as a member of the Washington Nationals. At times this season, Scherzer was utterly dominant, a threat to toss a no-no every time he took the ball. Scherzer nabbed his first career no-hitter on June 20 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He put the finishing touches on the year with one of the most dominant performances in league history. Last night, Scherzer’s season came full circle with a 17-strikeout, no-hit performance against the same Mets team he dominated on Opening Day.
What made Scherzer’s no-hitter so historic?
- Scherzer became just the sixth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same season, joining Roy Halladay (2010), Nolan Ryan (1973), Virgil Trucks (1952), Allie Reynolds (1951), and Johnny Vander Meer (1938).
- Scherzer tied Ryan for most strikeouts in a no-hitter since 1900 with his 17. Coincidentally, Ryan did not win the Cy Young award in 1973, finishing second to Jim Palmer despite striking out 383 hitters, still the MLB record. Halladay did claim the Cy Young in 2010. Scherzer will not win the award this year.
- An interesting aside — Trucks went 5-19 with a 3.97 ERA in the 1952 season in which he threw two no-hitters. He threw a no-hitter in 40-percent of his winning efforts.
- The Nationals’ right-hander is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw multiple no-hitters in a career without allowing a walk. His perfect game bid against the Pirates was ended by Jose Tabata turning statuesque on an inside slider, and last night’s perfecto came up short thanks to a Yunel Escobar error.
- Pud Galvin did throw two similar no-hitters in 1880 and 1884, but that was a different league and a different time. One of his no-hitters came against a team from Worcester.
- Scherzer’s performance was worth a 104 Game Score. That is the second highest Game Score ever recorded in a nine inning game. Kerry Wood‘s one-hit, 20-strikeout game in 1998 scored a 105. If you are unfamiliar with Game Score, the highest Game Score that can be achieved is 114. That would take a 27-strikeout perfecto.
- Scherzer also recorded a Game Score of 100 in his near no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 14. Carlos Gomez blooped a single that was nearly caught to break up Scherzer’s bid at perfection that day leading off the seventh. For that one-hitter with 16 strikeouts and only one walk, Scherzer earned a 100 Game Score. He is the only pitcher in league history to record two 100 Game Scores in a season.
- Scherzer’s first no-hitter of the year gave him a 97 Game Score. Only two other pitchers have ever recorded three 95-plus Game Scores in a single season. Ryan did it in 1990, but one was a ten-inning game. Walter Johnson accomplished the same feat in 1918, but all three games went extra innings. Johnson’s best game was an eighteen-inning masterpiece in which he scored a 120.
- In Scherzer’s three best games this season, he allowed one bloop hit that was nearly caught, struck out 43, and walked only one. There’s an argument to be made that Scherzer turned in the three most dominant single-game performances in the history of baseball all in one season.
- In Scherzer’s three worst games this year (based on Game Score), he allowed 16 earned runs in 12.2 innings good for an 11.37 ERA with 21 hits, six home runs, with 15 strikeouts and only one walk.
- The Mets and Nationals combined to strike out 35 times last night. Their two-team total set the league record for a nine-inning game. The no-hitter came on the back-end of a day-night doubleheader. The two teams struck out 24 times in the first game, giving them 59 in two games. This is the highest strikeout total in a doubleheader in baseball history. Only the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies who struck out 51 times in two 12-inning games in 1975 come close.
No matter how good Scherzer was this year, it’s still likely he will have a hard time cracking the top-five in the National League Cy Young voting. Thanks to a 6.43 ERA in the month of August, Scherzer faded from contention for the award, but that should not take anything away from the historic season he had. The 2015 season will go down in the history books as a year to forget for the Nationals franchise, but that should not detract from how historically good Scherzer has been at times this year. Vander Meer’s record for back-to-back no-hitters seems untouchable, but Max Scherzer gave it his best shot this year.