Jackson: Holding ’em hitless and going the distance — when it doesn’t count

From SABR member Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times on February 8, 2019:

No-hitters during spring training are little noted and not long remembered. These are exhibition games; the object is to play and get ready for the official season. The outcome is of little consequence, so the fact that the losing team had no safeties is also of little consequence. Also, a spring training no-hitter inevitably comes with a caveat, as the losing team’s front-line players are as likely to be on the bench as in the starting lineup.

Spring training no-hitters are rare (there have been only 29 to date, the last on March 24, 2017, when eight Angels pitchers stymied the Mariners by a 4-0 score), but understandably so, since the season lasts just a month. If they do occur, they are going to be credited to multiple pitchers, since all the pitchers need to get work in, audition for a spot on the roster, or both. A complete game by a starter does not serve these purposes.

Besides, these days, complete games are increasingly rare during the regular season and are basically unheard of during spring training. The goal today is to get starters ready to turn in a quality start of 100 pitches by Opening Day. A pitcher flirting with a no-hitter in the first game of the season will not be around long enough to achieve it. Bob Feller’s Opening Day no-hitter in 1940 (April 16 vs. the White Sox at Comiskey Park) was the first of its kind and likely the last.

Read the full article here: https://tht.fangraphs.com/holding-em-hitless-and-going-the-distance-when-it-doesnt-count/

Originally published: February 8, 2019. Last Updated: February 8, 2019.