Dog of the day: Will there be a no-hitter hangover for Tigers' Spencer Turnbull?

·3 min read

Considering there's a no-hitter practically every other day this season, it's probably worth studying the perception of the no-hitter hangover. 

Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers gets his curtain call at home after throwing a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners last week. There's a theory, perhaps made famous by Johan Santana never really rebounding from a 134-pitch no-hitter with the New York Mets in 2012, that pitchers struggle after no-hitters. 

That hasn't affected the odds for Monday's game against the Cleveland Indians. The 18-28 Tigers are -125 favorites at BetMGM. The last time the Tigers were favored in a game was April 22 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to Vegas Insider. They've been favorites only three times all season, all in that April series against Pittsburgh. 

The starting pitching matchup is the main reason. But how do pitchers fare after no-hitters?

The answer is rather boring. They generally pitch to their level before the no-hitter. The Hardball Times and writer J.G. Preston did extensive research on how pitchers fare in the starts after their no-hitters, and to sum it up, a pitcher's results before the no-hitter and in the start after are very close. 

We can also see what five pitchers did in their starts after a no-hitter this season (we'll add Madison Bumgarner's seven-inning no hitter): 

Joe Musgrove, at Pirates: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
Carlos Rodon, at Indians: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 K
Madison Bumgarner, vs. Rockies: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
John Means, at Mets: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Wade Miley, at Rockies: 3 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

Those are four solid starts and one blowup, though Miley's bad start did come at Coors Field. That perhaps works in Turnbull's favor. 

We can probably expect Turnbull to pitch as he did before the no-hitter, which was a solid and unspectacular MLB starter: 3.91 ERA, 22-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25.1 IP. The Tigers were 2-3 in his five starts. In his three MLB seasons before that, he had a 4.55 ERA in 45 games. 

The issue with taking the Indians as an underdog is that even though Turnbull will pitch to his normal level, that level is better than Cleveland starter Sam Hentges. Hentges has a 6.46 ERA and no track record of minor-league success. Still, the Indians have the second-best bullpen ERA in MLB (the Tigers have the worst) and are seven games ahead of the Tigers in the standings. 

With the Indians, you're getting the better team at an underdog number. If Cleveland can just get the game to the bullpens, it becomes a big favorite. The Indians are the better team, but the Tigers have the starting pitching matchup in their favor. 

That assumes Turnbull won't be one of the pitchers who falls victim to the no-hitter hangover. If he does, that Indians +105 ticket will look even better. 

Detroit Tigers' Spencer Turnbull (56) reacts after a teammate smeared shaving cream on his face before an interview after Turnbull threw a no-hitter. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Detroit Tigers' Spencer Turnbull (56) reacts after a teammate smeared shaving cream on his face before an interview after Turnbull threw a no-hitter. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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