Every so often, a pitcher not known for any sort of strikeout prowess will throw a no-hitter. The opposing team will put the ball in play throughout the game, but either the contact is weak, or the fielders are in the right place at the right time. It happens, and it’s still fantastic. It’s not like no-hitters are ranked by style points when the Hall of Fame displays the memorabilia.
What is odd, though, is when a strikeout machine throws a no-hitter without using one of his favorite weapons. Justin Verlander has one of the best repertoires of pitches in baseball right now, if not the past couple of decades. His off-speed stuff is fantastic, but he’ll always be known for a consistent, ridiculous 100 MPH fastball, and the combo has translated to a career K/9 of 8.2 -- well above-average for a starter. For his second no-hitter, though, he only struck out four batters.
Of the pitchers with a career K/9 ratio over 8.00 who have thrown a no-hitter, here are the lowest strikeout totals of any of their no-hitters:
Nolan Ryan: 9 strikeouts
Sandy Koufax - 4 strikeouts
David Cone - 10 strikeouts
Only Sandy Koufax had a no-hitter that was as anomalous as Verlander’s when it came to a lack of strikeouts. Considering that only 20 starting pitchers have thrown more than 1,000 innings with a K/9 over 8.00, it might be a while before we see another no-hitter from a purveyor of strikeouts that was light on the strikeouts quite like this.