Wade Miley puts on a pitching clinic in his first no-hitter

Cincinnati Reds LHP Wade Miley threw the fourth no-hitter already in 2021 but did it with his own unique style that’s quickly falling out of fashion

Before Wade Miley stepped onto the mound at Progressive Field to face the Cleveland Indians on Friday night, his son, Jeb, gave him a temporary Hulk tattoo to wear on his right forearm. He pitches with his left, but, like the Marvel superhero, he was simply incredible.

Miley pitched the 17th no-hitter in Cincinnati Reds franchise history, and fourth in the still-young MLB season, baffling the Indians with an assortment of changeups, curveballs, and cutters that left opposing batters off-balance all night. He struck out eight and allowed only two baserunners, both in the sixth inning on an error and his lone walk.

Miley is only the latest pitcher in the seemingly never-ending barrage of no-hitters being hurled this season. Which is odd, because he pitches more like he belongs in 1981 than 2021. He threw just 23 fastballs over 114 pitches against the Indians. Only seven of his pitches were clocked at 90 mph or above; his 107 pitches in the 80s were the most by any starting pitcher in a game this season.

Instead, Miley had the Indians lunging at an assortment of breaking balls and off-speed pitches. He threw 45 cutters, 36 changeups, and even added eight curveballs. The Indians continuously pounded his offerings into the ground, leaving the infielders behind Miley nothing but routine chances. Six of his last nine outs were groundballs with an average exit velocity of 80 mph. The Indians only hit one ball hard off him, a line out to short by Franmil Reyes in the fifth.

Reds: Wade Miley’s no-hitter was unique in its own right

Miley is a throwback to an age when a starting pitcher “pitched” instead of trying to blow fastballs by everyone. He came into the game with the ninth-worst strikeouts per nine innings ratio this season among starters with at least 20 innings. He’s 126th in fastball velocity and last among 131 starters in fastball usage. What he does instead is throw his changeup 54 percent of the time, more than all but four pitchers this season.

He had to rely on getting soft contact because Miley didn’t appear as if he would be able to stick around to pitch all nine innings. He was already at 96 pitches through seven but threw just 11 in the eighth and eight in the ninth, retiring the side in order on a flyout by Rene Rivera, a three-pitch strikeout of Cesar Hernandez, and, finally, a weak groundout by Jordan Luplow to shortstop Kyle Farmer for the final out.

Miley had some help from his offense in the top half of the inning. After Indians starter Zach Plesac—who was also on the wrong end of Carlos Rodon’s no-hitter on April 14—retired 15 straight Reds, he was lifted for Emmanuel Clase to lead off the ninth, the game still tied 0-0. Clase gave up three hits, committed a throwing error, and by the time he was taken out, the Reds had the three runs they needed to give Miley his chance at baseball history.

“I feel like that’s when the pressure kind of mounts a little bit and you really start thinking about it,” Miley told Bally Sports Cincinnati about his long wait to pitch the bottom of the ninth. “Because you don’t know. It’s 0-0, who knows. Then we score three runs right there. I was like, just go get three outs. And I was fortunate enough to do it.”

Miley is used to waiting. He made his MLB debut nearly 10 years ago and was starting his 255th career game on Friday. The last Reds pitcher to take that long before throwing his first no-hitter was Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in 1978. At the age of 34 years and 175 days, Miley is the oldest pitcher at the time of his first no-hitter since David Cone in 1999.

But the wait was well worth it, for now Miley is part of pitching’s most prestigious club.

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