Facts and figures about Giolito's no-hitter

August 26th, 2020

White Sox right-hander made history on Tuesday night at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, no-hitting the Pirates in a dominant 13-strikeout performance.

Giolito was somewhat familiar with that no-hitter feeling before Tuesday night. On May 25, 2017, Giolito held the Syracuse Chiefs hitless while pitching for Triple-A Charlotte -- though that game only lasted seven innings as it was the first game of a doubleheader with Minor League rules.

Despite that success as a top prospect, Giolito’s no-hitter also represented the continuation of his comeback from a disastrous 2018 season in which he posted MLB’s highest ERA (6.13) and allowed the most earned runs (118). Giolito recovered to become an All-Star in 2019 and now is the fourth pitcher to have the highest qualified ERA in a season and then go on to throw a no-hitter later in his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the previous pitchers to manage that sort of transformation were Edinson Vólquez (highest ERA in 2013, no-hitter in ‘17), Dennis Martinez (1985, ‘91) and Rick Wise (1968, ‘71). Giolito’s 6.13 ERA is also the highest by a pitcher in a qualified season who went on to throw a no-hitter in a future year.

Here are 11 more facts and figures to know about Giolito’s gem:

The Sox do it again

• Giolito spun the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history, and the franchise’s first since Philip Humber’s perfect game against the Mariners on April 21, 2012. It’s Chicago’s first no-no to come against a National League opponent, dating back to the start of Interleague Play in 1997.

• That 19th no-hitter broke a tie with the Red Sox for the most no-hitters by an American League team. The Dodgers (23) are the only team with more.

• This was the fourth no-hitter twirled at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field since the ballpark opened in 1991. Mark Buehrle owns two of them -- one no-no and one perfect game -- and Francisco Liriano threw the most recent one as a visitor for the Twins on May 3, 2011.

No hits, but plenty of K’s

• Giolito became the first White Sox pitcher to reach double-digit strikeouts in a no-hitter. This was only the 22nd no-no with 13 or more K’s since the formation of the American League in 1901. In that time, Giolito (26 years, 42 days) is the fifth-youngest pitcher to accomplish that feat, and the youngest since the Twins’ Eric Milton struck out 13 Angels in his no-no on Sept. 11, 1999.

• Giolito became only the seventh pitcher in the past 112 seasons to throw a no-hitter with at least 13 strikeouts and no more than one walk, joining Justin Verlander (2019), Max Scherzer (2015), Clayton Kershaw (2014), Matt Cain (2012), Randy Johnson (2004) and Sandy Koufax (1965).

• Giolito piled up an incredible 30 swinging strikes in the game, as the Pirates missed on 53.6% of their 56 swings. Giolito notched 13 whiffs on changeups, nine on four-seam fastballs and eight on sliders. It was just the 12th time in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008) in which a pitcher got at least 30 swinging strikes in a game. The most recent was James Paxton, who recorded 31 whiffs in a 16-strikeout effort on May 2, 2018.

• The outing was an incredible combination of missing bats and pitching efficiently. Giolito very nearly became the first pitcher on record to strike out 13 batters while throwing a “Maddux” -- a shutout with 99 pitches or fewer. (Complete pitch-count data only goes back to 1988). Giolito recorded his 13th strikeout, leading off the ninth inning, on his 94th pitch, before winding up with 101.

The record for the most K’s in a Maddux is 12, held by the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco (Sept. 27, 2014), and the Phillies’ Cliff Lee (April 14, 2011), although neither threw a no-hitter. Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax also is on record as striking out 12 in a 97-pitch no-hitter against the Phillies on June 4, 1964.

• Giolito was already coming off a terrific performance Thursday against the Tigers, when he racked up 13 strikeouts. All of those punchouts came on four-seamers or changeups, marking the second-highest combined strikeout total on those two pitches by anyone since the start of 2015 behind Max Scherzer’s 2015 no-hitter against the Mets (14). Giolito racked up 13 more K’s on Tuesday, with six of them on the four-seamer, six on the changeup and one on his slider.

• Chris Sale -- who did it twice in 2015 -- is the only other pitcher in White Sox history with back-to-back outings of 13-plus K’s.

The last out is the toughest

• The Pirates put only 14 balls in play against Giolito, and only two were hit hard, with an exit velocity of 95-plus mph, per Statcast. Josh Bell ripped a 106.6 mph lineout straight at third baseman Yoán Moncada -- playing over in the shortstop’s territory in a shift -- in the fourth inning. And on the final play of the game, Erik González smacked a 102.6 mph line drive that right fielder Adam Engel charged and snared. Those balls had expected batting averages of .800 and .850, respectively, but Chicago had its fielders placed perfectly. No other Bucs batter produced a batted ball with an xBA above .350.

• Engel saved the day with his quick reaction. His jump on the play -- defined by Statcast as feet covered in the right direction in the first three seconds after the pitch is released -- was 5.8 feet better than average.