What Happens After a No-hitter?

White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd just can’t buy a break. The guy has come very close to a no-hitter twice in a month, and both times he has come up short. Tonight he had an out in the ninth against the Twins  before Joe Mauer found a massive gap in left center field for a double. Against the Tigers on April 12 he had an out in the eighth before giving up his first hit to Edgar Renteria. Those two games are closer to a no-hitter than most guys will come in their lives. Floyd is handling his near-misses with a sense of humor, but that’s the kind of thing you’ll see when you close your eyes for the rest of your life iunless you finally do get one.

Though Floyd missed the magical no-hitter, I started thinking about no-no’s as I was watching Floyd’s progress. More specifically, I was wondering what the right thing to do with the White Sox tomorrow would be if they did get a no-hitter today, and what I should do in Floyd’s next start if he got it done. That made me want to look back at recent no-hitters to see how the teams and pitchers bounced back. Is there a trend? Here’s a look at the last 10 no-hitters. (Keep in mind that this is a painfully small sample so it is pretty much meaningless, but it’s late and it’s raining and I’m bored so bear with me):

September 1, 2007 – Clay Buchholz, Boston
– Boston won 3-2 the next day against Baltimore. In a truly bizarre move, Buchholz was rewarded for his amazing performance by being moved to the bullpen.

June 12, 2007 – Justin Verlander, Detroit
– Detroit lost to Milwaukee as favorites the next day. Verlander had a stellar outing next time out – four hits, one run and 11 strikeouts in seven innings.

April 18, 2007 – Mark Buehrle, White Sox – Chicago beat Texas the next day as favorites. Buehrle was solid in winning his next outing – three earned runs in seven innings.

September 6, 2006 – Anibal Sanchez, Florida – Florida was blown out by Philadelphia the day after this game. Sanchez through seven solid innings (three earned runs in seven innings) in his next start.

May 18, 2004 – Randy Johnson, Arizona
– The D-Backs won on the road as favorites in their next game. Johnson allowed two earned runs in seven innings in his next game.

June 11, 2003 – Six pitchers, Houston
– The Astros lost to the Yankees the next day, but they were heavy underdogs. No pitcher lasted three innings, so that’s not relevant.

April 27, 2003 – Kevin Millwood, Philadelphia
– The Phillies won against the Dodgers the next day as mild underdogs. Millwood was okay in his next start – three earned runs in six innings – but he ended up without a decision.

April 27, 2002 – Kevin Lowe, Boston – The Red Sox lost to Baltimore in their next game as very heavy favorites (-190). Derek Lowe had what seems to be the typical game post-no-hitter – three earned runs in seven innings. He didn’t get a decision, but the Sox did win.

September 3, 2001 – Bud Smith, St. Louis
– The Cards won the next day as favorites. Smith didn’t appear again for two weeks, but he was very good – a shutout over seven innings.

May 12, 2001 – A.J. Burnett, Florida – Florida won easily the next day at even money. In his next start (which was just the third of his career) allowed just one run in six and a third to earn a win.

So, what have we learned? Nothing conclusive, but a couple of interesting things. First, there seems not to be a consistent way for a team to respond – the teams were 6-4 in the following games, but were probably only barely profitable because of the lines. On the other hand, it seems like a pitcher is a pretty solid bet coming off a no-hitter. All eight starters that were given a chance to start again in their next start were decent. None lost, and all managed to maintain some of their momentum from the previous game. Definitely worth a bet.

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