In the search for their eighth no-hitter in franchise history, the Detroit Tigers have threatened often. Their starting staff has been dominant this year to the tune of a 3.46 ERA. Anibal Sanchez has posed the most imminent threat thus far, holding the Minnesota Twins hitless into the ninth inning on May 24th. Justin Verlander, aiming for the third of his career, took a bid into the seventh inning weeks earlier on May 5th. But the magic hasn’t been there—yet.
I have a good feeling it will be. Last night, Max Scherzer held the Kansas City Royals without a hit until the fifth inning. Doug Fister hasn’t carried an attempt past the fourth frame, but he has the ability. He retired 12 straight Houston Astros at one point during a May 12th start. Even the Tigers’ fifth starter, Rick Porcello, seems like a threat of late to carry a no-hitter deep. An unlikely candidate in Jose Alvarez threw his name into the mix on Sunday.
Before the season started, someone predicting a no-hitter for a Detroit pitcher would have defaulted to Verlander. But now, it looks almost more likely for Scherzer or Sanchez to accomplish the feat first. Out of 12 games in which a Tiger has pitched to a Game Score above 70, nine have been started by one of those two. Verlander, Fister, and Porcello have each pitched a single game with a score of 80 or above. Sanchez has the top two starts on the staff by that metric, while Scherzer has landed five games in the top 11.
The night Sanchez took a bid to the ninth was the only time he has come close to a no-hitter. Scherzer hasn’t taken one out of the fifth. But the latter did go 38 batters between hits and 25 between base-runners over two starts on May 21st and 26th. In the game following against the Baltimore Orioles, he retired the final 16 batters he faced. His stuff has regularly been dominant enough to render almost any team punchless.
Detroit is set to face decent offenses fairly consistently until the All-Star break, though they do host the Chicago White Sox from July 9-11th. But after the midway point, the competition will lighten up throughout July, with series against the Royals, White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals all on the agenda. All four of those teams rank among the bottom third for run scoring in the major leagues.