Not all no-hitters are thrown by No. 1 starting pitchers. And, not all No. 1 starting pitchers eventually throw no-hitters. This is a crucial truth — randomness always plays a significant part, so a no-hitter can be meaningful without being predictive. Yet, when a No. 1 starting pitcher does throw a no-hitter, it feels a little like validation. It feels a little like a stamp, cementing the reality that said pitcher is an ace. Jake Arrieta spun a no-hitter on Sunday, after having made several earlier attempts. Arrieta was a No. 1 before the weekend, but now he’s more widely recognized as part of the group. Doesn’t need to work that way, but that’s the way it works.
And it’s never a bad time for a reminder of just how good Arrieta has been. See, this can benefit everyone. People who didn’t know Arrieta before now know that he’s good. And people who did know Arrieta before might be less inclined to underrate him. This has gone on for some time. Since the start of last season, Arrieta is tied for second in baseball in ERA-. He ranks third in FIP-. He’s fourth in xFIP-. If you add all the numbers together, Arrieta ranks second in the resulting statistic, sandwiched by Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale. No-hitters are always a little lucky, but the bigger point is Arrieta required less luck than most. Because, simply, he’s far better than most. It’s been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.