Bush’s Near No-No

Before Matt Stairs connected in the 8th inning for a solo home run to end Dave Bush’s no-hitter, I was trying to figure out how on earth Bush was getting hitters out. He wasn’t exactly dominating with raw stuff.

Take a look at some of the graphs from Dan Brooks Pitch F/x tool.

His fastest pitch of the day was 90.4 MPH. He threw a variety of fastballs, ranging from 86 to 90, averaging around 88 MPH. The algorithm identified another 21 pitches as change-ups, ranging from 81 to 86 MPH. Some of them were probably just fastballs with a little bit taken off, though. He also mixed in some cut fastball/slider type in the low to mid-80s, and topped it off with a big slow curve that averaged 68 MPH.

If I went to a high school game and saw a right-handed pitcher topping out at 90 without much sink and featuring a curve that hit 70 with some wind behind it, I’d assume that he had a pretty good chance of not getting drafted this summer. It’s just not the kind of stuff you expect to encounter in a major league starting pitcher, especially a righty.

To have that kind of stuff throwing a no-hitter at the defending World Champs is enough to make you fall out of your chair.

Bush is the kind of guy who thrives on throwing strikes, but he didn’t even really do that today. Check out this chart:


That’s not painting the corners and peppering the strike zone to get ahead of hitters. 45 of his 111 pitches were outside of the Pitch F/x strikezone (which isn’t perfectly accurate, of course). Most of the stuff in the strike zone is on the higher side, which helps explain the 10 flyouts. There’s just nothing there that indicates “tough to hit”.

Help me out, Brewers fans. How on earth was Dave Bush able to hold down a line-up with some pretty good left-handed bats while throwing high school velocity and locating it up in the strike zone?

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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A lot of luck.