The Blue Jays, tied for second last all-time in franchise no-hitters, have not accomplished the elusive feat since Dave Stieb hurled a masterpiece on September 2nd, 1990. Since then, one of the most thrilling feats in major league baseball has failed to appear in a Blue Jay uniform for 27 years, despite many close calls, and the lament of fans across Canada continues. But which of the current five Blue Jay starters is most likely to throw a no-hitter within the next season?
5. Francisco Liriano
Despite throwing a no-hitter in 2011 (on that was deemed “among [the] least impressive in baseball history”), Liriano is aging. His 2016 season, initially disappointing in Pittsburgh, turned around late in Toronto, but he shouldn’t be expected to carry the same miracle in 2017.
4. J.A. Happ
Despite his strong performance in 2016 attributed to working with a familiar pitching coach while with the Pirates, J.A. Happ has time and age against him. At 34-years-old, Happ is running out of time to throw a no-hitter, and, if nothing else, is expected to regress in 2017. Obviously, if Happ repeats his dominant 2016 season, he would be a strong candidate to throw a no-no, but that shouldn’t be expected.
3. Marcus Stroman
If Happ has time and age against him, Stroman is exactly the opposite. At the ripe age of 25, Stroman is poised for a breakout season, and, if advanced statistics are telling the truth, he should become one of Toronto’s best starters. Of course, all of this bodes well for the potential of Stroman throwing a no-hitter. Despite this, he’s only come close the exclusive feat once, on July 24th, 2014, leaving room for doubt around his chances of doing so in 2017.
2. Aaron Sanchez
Winning the ERA title in 2016, Aaron Sanchez seems poised for another dominant season. Sanchez, just 24 years old, nearly threw a no-hitter on October 2nd, 2016, and, when free of inning limitations, may reach that untouchable plateau. Sanchez’s mortal enemy, in this case, is regression to the mean. As PECOTA predicts, Sanchez will collect a 4.38 ERA in 2017, which doesn’t bode well for the hope of a no-hitter.
1. Marco Estrada
Who else would be most likely to throw a no-hitter than the man who has come so close to doing so on multiple occasions? June 19th, 2015 against the Baltimore Orioles. June 24th, 2015 against the Tampa Bay Rays. June 5th, 2016 against the Boston Red Sox. September 20th, 2016 against the Seattle Mariners.
In fact, Estrada was the first pitcher since David Stieb in 1988 to carry a no-hitter into the eighth in back to back starts, a feat he accomplished on June 19th and June 24th, 2015. As we all know the end to Stieb’s story, it isn’t completely far fetched to believe Estrada may follow a similar trajectory.