Bold Prediction: Cleveland Indians no-hit drought will end in 2021
Currently, the Cleveland Indians hold the longest drought in Major League Baseball for having a no-hitter thrown. The club has had plenty in the team’s history with 14, but the last came over 40 years ago when Len Barker threw a perfect game for the Tribe. Since then, Cleveland has been the victim of a no-hitter on five different occasions, including twice this season. That will change in 2021.
You could call it a hunch or law of averages, but the stars seem to be aligning for the Cleveland Indians to finally break through and end at least one drought during the 2021 season. The longest drought in the history of the American League was nearly ended just recently when Zach Plesac tossed seven hitless innings against the Seattle Mariners, but before the season concludes I believe that the Tribe will see a no-hitter thrown for them.
When talking about law of averages, this season might be the best opportunity for the Tribe to throw a no-hitter ever. The record for no-hitters in a single major league season is currently set at eight, achieved during the 1884 season. If you limit the list to the “modern era” of baseball, then the mark is down to seven, which has been hit in 1990, 1991 and 2012. We’ve barely reached the 25% mark for the 2021 season and we already have six.
You could even make the argument that there’s been seven no-hitters this season. Madison Bumgarner tossed a complete game and didn’t allow a hit, but since it was only seven innings due to being part of a doubleheader, baseball doesn’t recognize it as a no-hitter.
Anyway, the Tribe have been on the wrong side of two of those no-hitters, being thrown by Lucas Giolito and Wade Miley. Luckily, they aren’t alone as the Seattle Mariners and Texas Ranges have both been no-hit twice as well. Seattle was the opposition for John Means and Spencer Turnbull while Texas as been on the other side of the first this year, being Joe Musgrove, as well as the most recent for former Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber. Plesac’s near bid also came against the Mariners.
Now, there is good news to being the victim of two no-hitters already this season. This is the first time time in MLB history that three teams have been on the wrong side of a no-hitter twice in the same season, but it has happened when two teams have been. That happened in 2015 to both the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both went on to win their divisions, including the Mets advancing to the World Series.
The fact that there’s already been six no-hitters this season seems to point towards more happening this year. If there’s a pitching staff that has the best chance to do it, it might be Cleveland. Between Plesac, Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale it seems reasonable that one of them could do what is becoming common this year. Bieber’s greatness on the mound has been nothing short of incredible, so why couldn’t he put his name next to Nolan Ryan on yet another list.
The key would first be pitching a complete game. Bieber’s only done so three times in his career and they all came during the 2019 season. That includes a one-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays when he struck out 10. Plesac has just one complete game, being a four-hit shutout against the Angels in 2019. As for Civale, he also has only one career complete game, being against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020 when he allowed five hits and one run.
The positive to that is Terry Francona is willing to let his pitchers not only go deep in a game but have rather high pitch totals, especially if something like a no-hitter is on the line. Some managers will put a cap on things, which is why team no-hitters happen. A team no-hitter would still count and break the drought, but it’s not as special as one player hitting the mark.
With 121 games still remaining on the schedule for the Cleveland Indians in 2021 there will be plenty of opportunities to throw a no-hitter. We already saw Plesac get as close as six outs away and it wouldn’t be a shock to see a similar outing from either him or another starter this season. With there already being six no-hitters this year with less than two months completed, signs are beginning to point to the drought being broken this season.