Oct 4, 2015, 1:15 AM EDT
NEW YORK — Any no-hitter is special, even in this age when they seem to happen on a somewhat regular basis. But some no-hitters stand out from the rest of the pack, and Max Scherzer’s gem Saturday night at Citi Field certainly fits the bill.
By any number of measurements, Scherzer just authored one of the greatest singular pitching performances in baseball history. And when you add this one to the list of other great performances he had already authored earlier this year, you end up with one of the most remarkable pitching seasons in a long time.
We’ll start with this game on its own merits…
— Scherzer struck out 17 batters, establishing a new Nationals club record (breaking the mark of 16 he set in June at Milwaukee). He also struck out nine batters in a row late in the game, establishing a new franchise record and falling just one shy of Tom Seaver’s all-time record of 10 consecutive strikeouts.
— The 17 strikeouts were tied for the most ever recorded in a no-hitter, joining Nolan Ryan (who did it for the Angels on July 15, 1973).
— This was only the 12th time in history a pitcher struck out 17 without issuing a walk in a 9-inning game.
— This was only the 27th no-hit, no-walk, no-hit-by-pitch game in history, with the Mets’ lone baserunner coming via a Yunel Escobar throwing error.
— Using Bill James’ “Game Score” — a stat that compares pitching performances across different eras — Scherzer recorded the second-greatest 9-inning pitching performance ever. His Game Score of 104 trails only Kerry Wood’s record 105 in 1998, when the Cubs rookie struck out 20, didn’t walk a batter and allowed only an infield single to the Astros. (It should be noted that Wood did hit a batter that afternoon, which doesn’t count against his Game Score. If it did, his score would drop to 104, tied with Scherzer for the best ever.)
— Scherzer found the strike zone with a ridiculous amount of regularity. He went to a 3-ball count only twice all night, and each instance came in the first three innings. He didn’t go to a 3-ball count to any of the last 21 batters he faced.
— Scherzer induced 27 swings and misses, 15 of those coming in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings alone.
— Scherzer’s pitch count of 109 is the lowest ever for someone who struck out 17 or more batters in a game.
Now, let’s put this start into his season as a whole…
— Scherzer is only the sixth pitcher in history to throw two no-hitters in the same season. The others: Johnny Vander Meer (1938), Allie Reynolds (1951), Virgil Trucks (1952), Nolan Ryan (1973) and Roy Halladay (2010, with the second no-hitter coming in the playoffs).
— In addition to his two no-hitters, Scherzer also tossed a 16-strikeout, 1-hitter on June 14 in Milwaukee. He’s only the sixth pitcher ever with at least three 1-hitters in a season, joining Bob Feller (1946), Trucks (1952), Ryan (1973), Dave Stieb (1988) and Pete Alexander (4 in 1915).
— Scherzer is the first pitcher ever with three 9-inning Game Scores of 97 or better in the same season. Only two others (Ryan in 1990, Pedro Martinez in 2000) even have two in the same season.
— Scherzer finished the season with 276 strikeouts, most in Nationals history. The only other pitchers with at least that many strikeouts in a season since 2001 are Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. The only others with that many since 1990 are Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and John Smoltz.
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