Nolan Starts: Seven+ innings and three or fewer hits – the new level of pitching excellence

sonny gray
Forget about Yu Darvish‘s shortest start of his career, the story last night was his mound opponent. Sonny Gray (4-1) tossed a masterful 4-0 complete game shutout as he and the A’s held Texas to only three singles, walking one and whiffing six.

I believe starts of this nature deserve a name and I suggest a “Nolan Start,” named after Nolan Ryan who had 134 starts of this nature, more than any other pitcher, an amazing 54 more than Roger Clemens, who is second on the all-time list.

Gray’s performance marked the 52nd time a starter has gone at least seven innings and allowed no more than three hits this season

There were 10 starts in that fashion on Sunday alone.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
1 Sonny Gray 2014-04-28 OAK TEX W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 1 6 0 108 73 86
2 Johnny Cueto 2014-04-27 CIN ATL L 0-1 GS-8 8.0 3 0 0 3 11 0 114 73 84
3 Ian Kennedy 2014-04-27 SDP WSN W 4-2 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 1 1 0 9 0 117 76 76
4 Jason Hammel 2014-04-27 CHC MIL W 4-0 GS-8 ,W 7.0 3 0 0 2 7 0 98 67 76
5 Dillon Gee 2014-04-27 NYM MIA W 4-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 0 0 4 6 0 110 71 78
6 Garrett Richards 2014-04-27 LAA NYY L 2-3 GS-7 7.0 3 2 2 2 7 1 112 68 68
7 James Shields 2014-04-27 KCR BAL W 9-3 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 2 2 2 6 1 101 69 67
8 Julio Teheran 2014-04-27 ATL CIN W 1-0 GS-8 8.0 3 0 0 2 5 0 94 61 79
9 Ryan Vogelsong 2014-04-27 SFG CLE W 4-1 GS-7 7.0 2 0 0 2 6 0 104 59 77
10 Adam Wainwright 2014-04-27 STL PIT W 7-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 0 0 2 7 0 99 67 81
11 Collin McHugh 2014-04-27 HOU OAK W 5-1 GS-9 ,W 8.2 2 1 1 3 7 0 114 73 80
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/29/2014.

Nine to Know: 2014 Pitchers with Multiple Nolan starts

Rk Player # W L W-L% GS CG SHO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Johnny Cueto 4 2 1 .667 4 2 1 33.0 12 2 2 7 35 0.58
2 Adam Wainwright 3 3 0 1.000 3 1 1 24.0 8 0 0 9 24 0.71
3 Julio Teheran 3 2 0 1.000 3 1 1 24.0 9 2 1 6 15 0.63
4 Hyun-jin Ryu 2 1 0 1.000 2 0 0 14.0 5 0 0 4 15 0.64
5 Garrett Richards 2 1 0 1.000 2 0 0 14.0 4 2 1 5 13 0.64
6 Martin Perez 2 2 0 1.000 2 2 2 18.0 6 0 0 3 11 0.50
7 Jason Hammel 2 2 0 1.000 2 0 0 14.0 6 3 3 3 13 0.64
8 Dillon Gee 2 2 0 1.000 2 0 0 15.0 6 0 0 4 9 0.67
9 Scott Feldman 2 1 0 1.000 2 0 0 14.0 5 1 0 6 4 0.79
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/29/2014.

RyanhofplaquePitchers with 10+ Nolan Starts in a season

Ryan is on the list three times

Rk Player Year # W L W-L% ERA GS CG SHO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP
1 Nolan Ryan 1976 11 8 2 .800 1.15 11 8 6 94.0 28 12 1 63 115 0.97
2 Don Sutton 1972 10 6 0 1.000 0.51 10 5 4 88.0 26 5 3 27 66 0.60
3 Mike Scott 1987 10 9 0 1.000 1.10 10 5 2 82.0 26 10 4 22 81 0.59
4 Nolan Ryan 1972 10 7 3 .700 0.42 10 7 4 85.0 24 4 2 38 110 0.73
5 Nolan Ryan 1989 10 9 0 1.000 0.86 10 4 2 83.1 23 8 1 29 104 0.62
6 Jake Peavy 2007 10 8 0 1.000 0.39 10 0 0 70.0 24 3 1 20 93 0.63
7 Sandy Koufax 1963 10 9 1 .900 0.20 10 9 8 88.0 25 2 1 11 80 0.41
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/29/2014.

Nine to Know: Seasons with the most Nolan Starts

(since 1914)
Pitchers smashed the record last season

Rk Year #
1 2013 359
2 2010 313
3 2012 307
4 2011 299
5 2002 282
6 1988 271
7 2009 269
8 1991 262
9 2001 261
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/29/2014.