Ben Berg Campus Correspondent Column: Who is the worst pitcher to throw a no-hitter?

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On Tuesday, Aug. 25, White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito threw the first no-hitter of his professional career, walking one and striking out 13 on 101 pitches. This feat isn’t very surprising given Giolito’s draft position in 2012 (16th overall) and trajectory as a rising ace in Chicago, but it got me thinking: who is the worst pitcher of the modern era to throw a no-hitter in the MLB? Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:  

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey pitches at a game against the Baltimore Orioles June 26, 2011. Photo courtesy Keith Allison from Wikimedia Commons

3) Homer Bailey  

Of all the pitchers who have thrown no-hitters since 1990, the 14-year veteran, Homer Bailey, stands out as one of the strangest; he’s neither been an all-star, nor top of the rotation pitcher, and because he’s thrown two no-nos. Yes, Homer Bailey, who owns a career ERA (earned run average) of 4.56, a 1.37 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) and a lifetime 81-86 record, once threw a no-hitter in back-to-back seasons as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Given his 244 career starts, Bailey also has an impressively low 5.6 career WAR (wins above replacement). For contrast, Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried has almost half of that at 2.7 WAR while only playing in eight games this season. Again, it’s not that Homer Bailey has had a particularly “bad” career, as there’s something to be said for solid longevity, but after looking at his mediocre career marks, you would never guess he had two-time no-hitter potential.  

2) Jose Jimenez  

Detroit Tigers pitcher Jose Jimenez casts his throw at a game against the Baltimore Orioles 4/29/18 Photo courtesy Keith Allison from Wikimedia Commons

On June 25, 1999, then-sophomore starter Jose Jimenez faced off against Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks…and won. After walking two batters and striking out eight, Jimenez and the Cardinals left Bank One Ballpark in Arizona with a 1-0 victory. All was well for the 26-year-old in what was only  his first full season in the majors. Unfortunatelyit all went downhill for Jimenez. After that early-season game, Jimenez struggled so mightily as a starter (5.85 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 5-14 record) that he was demoted to the bullpen for the remainder of his career. The once-promising Jimenez played just five more professional seasons; started in only seven more games; and ended his career with a lifetime 24-44 record, an ERA of 4.92 and a WHIP of 1.45. After peaking early in his career, Jose Jimenez found himself trapped in a valley he would never be able to escape from. But, he’ll always have a no-hitter on his resume, which is more than most can say.  

Minnesota Twins pitcher Philip Humber musters his throw against the Kansas City Royals 09/14/18 Photo by Keith Allison (Wikimedia Commons)

1) Philip Humber  

What makes Philip Humber’s place in history so special is that despite being so bad and having such a short career, he not only threw a no-hitter, but also a perfect game; this means he allowed zero baserunners to reach safety. It’s true: Philip Humber, a man who holds a 16-23 record in 97 career games, an ERA of 5.31 and 1.42 lifetime WHIP once faced 27 batters and got all 27 out. Astoundingly, when he earned the perfect game in 2012 as a member of the White Sox, he was in the midst of a below-average season, even by his own low standards. In 2012, just a year before he retired, Humber pitched 102 innings with an ERA of 6.44 and a WHIP of 1.54. This includes the nine innings where he didn’t allow a single base runner, mind you. Sure, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while, but a perfect game is not a nut. A perfect game is more like saying, “Even a blind squirrel has a 4.0 GPA at Harvard every once and a while.” No, they don’t. Yet Humber did. And no one can take that away from him.  

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