Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver and 8 Pitchers Capable of a No-No Every Time out
It was another pretty incredible night for premier pitchers in the American League.
In fact, it was a Justin-credible night for the Detroit Tigers.
Justin Verlander struck out 14 batters in a 132-pitch, eight inning effort against the New York Yankees on Monday night, while Jered Weaver notched his major league-best 15th win with a four-hit complete game masterpiece over the Oakland A's.
The two elite pitchers couldn't be more on the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of style—Verlander with the capability to blow hitters away with his 100 MPH heater at any time, and Weaver with the ability to completely baffle hitters with movement and location.
On any given night, when either pitcher is on top of their game, fans in the stands could easily be watching history in the making—a no-hitter.
Verlander already has two—in 2007 and last year. Weaver picked up the first no-no of his career this year against the Minnesota Twins.
Along with Weaver and Verlander, there are others in MLB with the capability of notching zeroes inning after inning every time out. Here is a look at some of them.
Matt Cain: San Francisco Giants
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Earlier this year, the baseball world saw just how nasty San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain can be, throwing the 22nd perfect game in MLB history on June 13.
Cain's dominance over the Houston Astros on that night was indeed impressive—14 strikeouts, which matched a career high, and a fastball that he knew was special when he mowed down the Astros the first time through the lineup.
"The first time through the lineup, I felt like something could happen," he said.
Cain has always been nasty—a fastball with late movement, outstanding command of all of his pitches and a veteran understanding of how to work each hitter.
Before throwing his perfecto, Cain had taken no-hitters into the seventh inning on five previous occasions, and had carried a perfect game into the sixth inning in just his second start of this season.
Zack Greinke: Los Angeles Angels
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Jered Weaver has already perfected the art of the no-hitter, and now has a teammate who is definitely capable of doing the same on multiple occasions—Zack Greinke.
One of the phrases that other players use when talking about facing Greinke is almost unilateral—electric stuff.
Greinke has a deep arsenal of pitches. His four-seam fastball will at times hit 95 MPH, and his two-seamer generally sits in the low 90s, but features sharp downward movement that induces a lot of ground-ball outs.
The Greinke slider might be one of the best in the business. Generally sitting in the mid-80s, his slider can at times induce an incredible 50 percent whiff rate. In addition, Greinke features a curveball that can be thrown at multiple speeds, from the low 80s ranging down at times to the mid-60s.
The stuff is absolutely there for Greinke to produce no-nos—maybe Weaver's magic can rub off on Greinke in Anaheim.
Chris Sale: Chicago White Sox
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On Monday night against the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale was back to himself after a nine-day lay-off, picking up his 13th win of the season in an eight-inning effort.
Sale's fastball was regularly clocked at 95 MPH just one outing after he had trouble hitting the low 90s with his signature fastball. Clearly the rest helped.
Sale dropped his ERA to 2.59 in the process and walked no one, throwing 67 of his 101 pitches for strikes.
When Sale is on top of his game, it certainly feels like something special could happen on that given night, and at just 23 years of age, Sale's no-hit days may be coming soon.
Stephen Strasburg: Washington Nationals
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The best pitchers have the ability to bounce back from a rough outing with a flourish, and Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg certainly did that on Sunday.
After getting rocked by the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night, Strasburg was on top of his game against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, allowing just three hits in six innings, striking out six and walking just one.
When Strasburg is finally unleashed by GM Mike Rizzo and able to go deeper into games without worries of inning limits, this young man absolutely has the capability to look a no-hitter square in the face with each outing.
Max Scherzer: Detroit Tigers
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The Detroit Tigers don't just feature one pitcher who is capable of throwing no-hitters with each outing.
Yes, Justin Verlander is the obvious choice as the first pitcher, but rotation-mate Max Scherzer has also flirted with no-hitters on multiple occasions.
Scherzer is well-known for an electric fastball that has produced an American League-leading 11.3 K/9 rate this season.
However, he has carried no-hitters into the sixth inning on multiple occasions just during his time with the Tigers, and while he hasn't been able to seal the deal, it's always worth watching when Scherzer has his A-game with him.
Roy Halladay: Philadelphia Phillies
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No-hitters are rare in the majors, perfect games even more so. Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay has already mastered both.
Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in MLB history on May 29, 2010 against the Florida Marlins and then followed up with a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds later that year in the very first postseason appearance of his career.
What gives Halladay the ability to throw a no-hitter every time out is his cutter, a 90-92 MPH offering that literally falls off the table when it reaches the plate. Combined with pinpoint control and an outstanding curveball and split-change that can be thrown at any time for strikes, Halladay can be a no-hitter waiting to happen on any given night.
Jered Weaver: Los Angeles Angels
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Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver's four-hit shutout performance on Monday night was as close to perfection as you can get without actually achieving it.
Weaver allowed three singles and only one extra-base hit—a double to Brandon Inge with one out in the eighth. While close certainly doesn't count, just watching the Angels' ace weave his magic—no pun intended—is indeed fun to watch.
Weaver does not feature a blazing fastball—on most nights it rarely climbs above 90 MPH—but the command and movement of all of his pitches gives him the ability to miss bats and induce ground-ball outs with uncanny regularity.
The no-no thrown by Weaver in early May against the Minnesota Twins was the first of his career, but it almost certainly won't be his last.
Johnny Cueto: Cincinnati Reds
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The more I watch Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto work his magic, the more I think—how has this guy not yet thrown a no-hitter?
Cueto would have had the second-lowest ERA in the National League last season had he qualified, and this year already has an NL-leading 14 wins with a 2.51 ERA, third-lowest in the league.
Cueto's stuff simply misses bats, and his distinct, Luis Tiant-style windup makes it hard for hitters to pick the ball up at times. Cueto seems destined for no-hit fame at some point soon.
David Price: Tampa Bay Rays
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On an early July afternoon at Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price had just stifled the vaunted New York Yankees offense with a sterling seven-inning effort, allowing only one run on four hits with eight strikeouts.
All Yankees hitters had to say about Price was that he featured "no-hit stuff."
"It's the best I've seen his curveball,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said at the time. "And when you add it with his other stuff, his fastball up to 98, his backdoor cutter, his changeup, he had no-hit stuff today. He really did.''
"He was throwing more off-speed stuff than usual and he was throwing it on the corners for strikes,'' Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "My first two at-bats he didn’t give me one pitch to hit and yet he was in the zone, down, on the corners. That’s why he so good, because he’s got great stuff and when he locates he’s almost unhittable.''
Price will one day put it all together for that first no-hitter, and as the Yankees' personnel pointed out, the stuff is there for the potential to do so every single night.
Justin Verlander: Detroit Tigers
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The MLB 2K12 commercials this offseason that featured Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander trying to get into the Perfect Game Club were indeed comical, but the fact is that Verlander has already mastered the art of no-nos.
With two already in the books and multiple occasions in which he's carried a no-hitter into the later innings, Verlander's career likely won't end with just two on his resume.
While he gave up two runs on eight hits on Monday night, the 14 strikeouts and the ability to still throw 100 MPH after 130 pitches is part of the reason that Verlander has been able to notch zeroes inning after inning. There should be no question in anyone's mind that Verlander is indeed the biggest threat to throw a no-hitter on any given day.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.