Nearly excellent video games: Ranking the most effective makes an attempt since King Felix

By Jordan Shusterman
FOX Sports activities MLB Author

You come on the King, you finest not miss.

Sooner or later earlier than the tenth anniversary of Felix Hernandez throwing MLB’s most up-to-date excellent sport, Rays righty Drew Rasmussen discovered himself three outs away from his personal piece of historical past.

Simply three outs. How exhausting may it’s? Rasmussen, within the midst of a breakout season, had been carving up the Orioles all day, and now he simply wanted to get via 7-8-9. 

However somewhat than let Rasmussen get forward, as he had carried out all afternoon, Jorge Mateo pounced. On the primary pitch, he laced a double down the left-field line. 

Poof. One other try on the elusive twenty fourth perfecto in MLB historical past gone in a blink.

It was a well-recognized feeling, one baseball followers have grown all too used to. At the same time as offense has slowly gone down, with strikeouts skyrocketing over the previous decade, this one supreme pitching feat has continued to slide via the grasp of even the most effective arms within the league.

Ten years marks the longest drought between excellent video games since 13 years handed between Catfish Hunter’s perfecto in 1968 and Len Barker’s in 1981 — and that’s after Felix’s was the third excellent sport of the 2012 season, probably the most ever in a single season, following Phillip Humber and Dallas Braden.

A robust excellent sport bid is all about having it intact late within the sport and never essentially the pitcher’s ultimate line rating, irrespective of how dominant it was. For instance, John Means confronted the minimal 27 batters in his no-hitter in opposition to the Mariners final yr. However with Sam Haggerty reaching first base on a dropped third strike within the third inning, an ideal sport was out of the query pretty early. It was nonetheless a no-hitter — and a exceptional one at that — however the added weight of pursuing the perfecto was not on Means’ shoulders for a lot of the sport.

The identical may be mentioned about Shelby Miller’s unimaginable begin in 2013, through which he allowed a leadoff single after which retired the following 27 batters in a row for the primary shutout of his profession. That’s a tremendous outing, however he knew from the very first batter that he wasn’t going for excellent historical past.

In an ideal sport bid, it’s all in regards to the strain mounting as the sport proceeds. We really feel it as followers watching, and there’s a cause one of many largest superstitions in baseball is gamers not speaking a few no-hitter or excellent sport whereas it’s in progress. It’s much less a few jinx and extra in regards to the feeling of fragility, particularly with excellent video games. 

It’s like standing close to a home of playing cards and making an attempt to not breathe too exhausting. And as Rasmussen realized the exhausting approach, it will probably come crashing down within the blink of a watch, irrespective of how cautious you’re.

Curiously, this excellent sport drought additionally comes at a time when no-hitters appear as simple to return by as ever. You’d suppose a minimum of a type of over the previous decade would have ended up an ideal sport. The league even set a report for no-hitters in a single season with 9 in 2021.

It’s an added component of what makes the right sport drought so exceptional. Since Felix’s perfecto, there have been 39 (!) nine-inning no-hitters. But to additional underscore how particular an ideal sport is, solely three of these no-no’s have been excellent via six innings. Throwing an ideal sport is simply actually rattling exhausting.

There have additionally been loads of excellent sport bids that didn’t lead to no-hitters. The truth is, I discovered 58 cases of an ideal sport intact via a minimum of six innings since Felix’s perfecto. Of these 58 efforts, solely 20 survived the seventh, and solely 9 made it via the eighth inning, together with Rasmussen on Sunday.

Mateo’s double was the eighth double to interrupt up a perfecto over the previous decade. The opposite dream-crushing moments: 33 singles, one homer (we’ll get to that!), seven walks, 4 HBPs and 5 errors. 

To rejoice — or maybe, commemorate — these fallen perfectos, right here’s a rating of these 58 failed pursuits of perfection, from the six-inning makes an attempt you in all probability forgot about to the enduring shut calls that got here up simply brief. 

Nice efforts by good pitchers (21)

58. Kendall Graveman (Athletics) vs. Rangers (Sept. 23, 2016): via 6 
57. Jeremy Hellickson (Nationals) vs. Padres (Might 8, 2018): via 6 
56. Kyle Gibson (Phillies) vs. Nationals (Aug. 5, 2022): via 6 
55. Julio Teheran (Braves) vs. Phillies (Sept. 20, 2015): via 6 
54. Noah Syndergaard (Mets) vs. Padres (July 28, 2015): via 6 
53. Johnny Cueto (Giants) vs. Dodgers (March 30, 2018): via 6 
52. Blake Snell (Padres) vs. Angels (Sept. 7, 2021): via 6.1 
51. Jake Peavy (Giants) vs. Mets (Aug. 2, 2014): via 6.1 
50. Mike Minor (Rangers) vs. Padres (June 27, 2018): via 6.1 
49. Joe Ryan (Twins) vs. Guardians (Sept. 8, 2021): via 6.1 
48. Carlos Carrasco (Guardians) vs. Rays (July 1, 2015): via 6.1 
47. Chris Archer (Rays) vs. Tigers (July 29, 2015): via 6.1 
46. Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers) vs. Blue Jays (March 28, 2019): via 6.2 
45. Bartolo Colon (Mets) vs. Mariners (July 23, 2014): via 6.2 
44. Danny Duffy (Royals) vs. Orioles (Might 17, 2014): via 6.2 
43. Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers) vs. Reds (Might 26, 2014): via 7 
42. Jameson Taillon (Yankees) vs. Angels (June 2, 2022): via 7 
41. Bartolo Colon (Rangers) vs. Astros (April 15, 2018): via 7 
40. Marco Estrada (Blue Jays) vs. Rays (June 24, 2015): via 7 
39. Jordan Lyles (Padres) vs. Rockies (Might 15, 2018): via 7.1 
38. Homer Bailey (Reds) vs. Giants (July 2, 2013): via 6

These are excellent sport bids which have largely been misplaced to historical past however nonetheless deserve their due. Bonus factors — and the best rating — for Bailey, who was the one one on this batch to finish a no-hitter, and the second of his profession at that. 

Unbelievable efforts by nameless pitchers (3)

37. Chad Bettis (Rockies) vs. Phillies (Might 29, 2015): via 6
36. Miguel Gonzalez (White Sox) vs. Tigers (Might 28, 2017): via 6
35. Cody Anderson (Guardians) vs. Rays (June 29, 2015): via 6.1

Since Felix’s perfecto, just one excellent sport bid that received previous the sixth inning has been spoiled by a house run, with Grady Sizemore in his ultimate season launching one to proper subject in opposition to Anderson and his former group. 

Apparently Colby Lewis favored pitching in opposition to Oakland (2)

34. Colby Lewis (Rangers) vs. Athletics (Sept. 11, 2015): via 7
33. Colby Lewis (Rangers) vs. Athletics (June 16, 2016): via 7.2

Lewis had a very nice profession with the Rangers, however I actually was not anticipating his title arising on this analysis, not to mention twice, not to mention in opposition to the identical group simply 9 months aside. Good for him!

Inexplicably spectacular major-league debuts by Pirates pitchers in opposition to the Cardinals (2)

32. Nick Kingham (Pirates) vs. Cardinals (April 29, 2018): via 6.2
31. Max Kranick (Pirates) vs. Cardinals (June 27, 2021): via 5 

How bizarre is that this? Kranick was really pulled from the sport at simply 50 pitches as a result of there was an hour-long rain delay following the fifth inning, and the group didn’t wish to ship him again out after that lengthy of a layoff. Rattling you, Midwest climate! What may have been?!

Duane Underwood Jr. got here on in aid and stored the perfecto alive via the sixth earlier than yielding a leadoff double to Dylan Carlson within the seventh.

By no means even received the prospect (4)

30. Daniel Norris (Tigers) vs. White Sox (Sept. 22, 2015): via 5
29. Tanner Houck (Pink Sox) vs. Nationals (Oct. 2, 2021): via 5
28. Blake Snell (Rays) vs. Blue Jays (Aug. 10, 2018): via 5
27. Wealthy Hill (Dodgers) vs. Marlins (Sept. 10, 2016): via 7 

Considerably extremely, Kranick wasn’t the one pitcher prior to now decade to be pulled with an ideal sport intact, and not one of the different cases have been rain-related. Snell (pulled at 47 pitches) and Norris (pulled at 63) have been on pitch counts after lately coming off injured checklist stints, Houck was pulled so he didn’t should hit in an NL park in a detailed sport, and Hill had a blister that popped up throughout the sport, and the Dodgers didn’t need it to worsen.

Generally extra than simply the opposing group can get in the way in which of an ideal sport bid.

Mixed nonsense (1)

26. Rays mixed vs. Orioles (July 14, 2019): via 8 

Rasmussen’s effort Sunday reminded us all that the Rays had really carried out this to the Orioles earlier than, albeit with two pitchers, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Yarbrough, in one in all Tampa Bay’s quintessential, opener-to-bulk-guy pitching deployments. 

Let’s get this out of the way in which: Good video games must be carried out by one pitcher. However I additionally need everybody to simply accept that with the way in which groups use pitchers these days, a mixed perfecto is sure to occur in some unspecified time in the future. I don’t know the way I’m going to really feel about it when it does, however I refuse to let it take me abruptly. 

Good efforts by nice pitchers (15)

25. Aaron Nola (Phillies) vs. Padres (Aug. 21, 2021): via 6 
24. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Mets (July 23, 2015): via 6 
23. Max Scherzer (Nationals) vs. Brewers (June 14, 2015): via 6 
22. Jake Arrieta (Cubs) vs. Pirates (Sept. 27, 2015): via 6 
21. Corey Kluber (Guardians) vs. Royals (July 24, 2014): via 6.1 
20. Chris Sale (White Sox) vs. Angels (Might 12, 2013): via 6.1 
19. Matt Harvey (Mets) vs. White Sox (Might 7, 2013): via 6.2 
18. Yu Darvish (Rangers) vs. Pink Sox (Might 9, 2014): via 6.2 
17. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Angels (July 15, 2022): via 7 
16. Corbin Burnes (Brewers) vs. Guardians (Sept. 11, 2021): via 6 
15. Shohei Ohtani (Angels) vs. Athletics (April 8, 2018): via 6.1
14. Lucas Giolito (White Sox) vs. Athletics (Sept. 29, 2020): via 6 
13. Max Scherzer (Dodgers) vs. Padres (Sept. 12, 2021): via 7.1 
12. Madison Bumgarner (Giants) vs. Padres (Sept. 12, 2015): via 7.2 
11. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Rockies (June 19, 2014): via 6 

It is a who’s who of pitchers on the peak of their powers who made actual strides towards 27 up, 27 down over the previous decade. My favorites on this assortment embody Ohtani, who went 6.1 excellent in his second profession MLB begin, Giolito because the lone postseason consultant on this complete checklist and Kershaw’s 15-strikeout efficiency in opposition to Colorado that finally resulted in a no-hitter.  

Approaching historical past (4)

10. Triston McKenzie (Guardians) vs. Tigers (Aug. 15, 2021): via 7.2
9. Jorge Lopez (Royals) vs. Twins (Sept. 8, 2018): via 8
8. Mike Leake (Mariners) vs. Angels (July 19, 2019): via 8
7. Drew Rasmussen (Rays) vs. Orioles (Aug. 14, 2022): via 8

Think about if McKenzie had completed the duty on the ninth anniversary of Felix’s excellent sport! It was additionally an actual journey watching starter Jorge Lopez shut down Minnesota for eight entire innings — maybe the Twins remembered that once they traded for him earlier this month. 

Leake and Rasmussen every misplaced their bids to guide off the ninth, which was devastating by itself and even worse contemplating how staggeringly low their pitch counts have been; Rasmussen was at 79 and Leake was at 78 coming into the ninth. These two by no means even seemed like they have been sweating as they routinely despatched opposing hitter after opposing hitter again to the dugout. 

They seemingly had greater than sufficient fuel within the tank to complete it the right sport, however the baseball gods merely weren’t smiling down upon them fairly sufficient.

By no means even received the prospect, however it’s Clayton Kershaw (1)

6. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) vs. Twins (April 13, 2022): via 7

Look, should you baseball managers wish to pull your younger pitchers with an ideal sport to play it protected health- and workload-wise, effective. However it is a future Corridor of Famer we’re speaking about. I do know it’s 25 levels in Minnesota in April, and Kershaw’s received a nasty again, however come on, Dave Roberts! Kershaw has already achieved every part else there’s to perform on this sport — let the person go for glory!  

(I don’t know if I really imagine this, however hey, excellent video games can actually mess along with your logic and reasoning. That’s one of many many causes I’m not a baseball supervisor.) 

The heartbreakers (5)

5. Wealthy Hill (Dodgers) vs. Pirates (Aug. 23, 2017): via 8 

It’s one factor to lose an ideal sport within the ninth on an error by your third baseman. However to then take a no-hitter into extras, solely to surrender a walk-off house run? This sport is simply merciless generally. 

4. Yusmeiro Petit (Giants) vs. D-backs (Sept. 6, 2013): via 8.2

3. Carlos Rodon (White Sox) vs. Indians (April 14, 2021): via 8.1

2. Max Scherzer (Nationals) vs. Pirates (June 20, 2015): via 8.2

HBPs within the ninth to lose an ideal sport? It hurts to even give it some thought. A minimum of these two nonetheless received their no-hitters — or toe-hitter, in Rodon’s case — so their exceptional efforts weren’t fully for naught. 

1. Yu Darvish (Rangers) vs. Astros (April 2, 2013): via 8.2 

It is likely to be one thing of a sizzling take to rank Darvish forward of Scherzer, however there’s something so painfully memorable in regards to the ball going via Darvish’s legs, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever shake it.  

Whereas clearly a extra spectacular solution to attain base than what Jose Tabata did vs. Scherzer, Marwin Gonzalez’s primary base-hit-up-the-middle extra completely encapsulates how troublesome it’s to get 27 consecutive MLB hitters out in the identical sport — even when it’s peak Darvish dealing with the horrific 2013 Astros. I additionally admire the truth that this occurred so quickly after Felix, and I keep in mind pondering, “Well, we’ll get another perfecto here soon.”

But right here we’re, 10 years later, nonetheless ready. 

As this final group of near-misses demonstrates so clearly, the right sport is a fickle beast. Regardless of how nasty the stuff will get, major-league hitters normally discover a solution to get on base a minimum of as soon as over the course of a nine-inning sport.  

That mentioned, the twenty fourth excellent sport will occur ultimately. I don’t know who will do it or what sorts of sorcery it should require, however I do know it should occur. 

However for now, the glow of Felix’s legendary efficiency continues to shine vivid as the last word objective for a pitcher to try for. Right here’s to a different decade of imperfect video games. 

Lengthy stay the King.

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball author for FOX Sports activities. He lives in D.C. however is a big Seattle Mariners fan and loves watching the KBO, which implies he would not get plenty of sleep. You may comply with him on Twitter @j_shusterman_.

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