Tuesday 15th May 2018, something very special nearly happened.
Pitching for the San Diego Padres was Jordan Lyles, he was working through 7.1 innings of perfect game baseball as Trevor Story stepped up to the plate. This would have been the first ever Padres perfect game, it would have also been the Padres first ever no-hitter.
Except it wasn’t.
Trevor Story hit a single to left field and ran into first base, it was all over in an instant. The Padres faithful groaned, then the Petco crowd raised up as one and gave Lyles a standing ovation.
Another nearly perfect game for the 2018 Major League Baseball season.
The last nearly perfect game was the unlikely candidate of Bartolo Colon, who on the 15th April of this year also entered the 8th inning with a perfect game intact. Except he didn’t get that first out in the 8th like Lyles, he walked Carlos Correa instead and that was that.
So how long has it been since a perfect game was thrown? We’re at a rather pleasing round number of 2,100 days since the last perfect game, Felix Hernandez for the Seattle Mariners in August 2012. It was a special moment for the Mariners, but baseball had already been showered with two other perfect games that season, Philip Humber for the White Sox against the Mariners and Matt Cain for the Giants against the Astros.
2,100 days now puts us at the 6th longest wait for a perfect game, with the next longest wait (4,755 days between them) between Catfish Hunter throwing his on the 8th May 1968 and Len Barker throwing his on 15th May 1981. The shortest wait baseball has had for a perfect game, was surprisingly not in the famous 3-PG season of 2012 (53 and 63 days between those three). It was in fact in the 19th century, when Lee Richmond hurled a Perfecto on the 12th June 1880, only to have Monte Ward launch his own PG just five days later on the 17th June.
The longest wait baseball has seen for this incredible feat of pitching, was between Charlie Robertson for the Chicago White Sox on 30th April 1922 and Don Larson for the New York Yankees on the 8th October 1956. A whopping 12,580 days between those two happening.
So how long will we have to wait for the next one? Will we go 12,580 days? Well in an era where pitchers are getting more strikes and hitters are getting less hits, surely it’s going to happen soon, right? Not necessarily, we’re already seeing bullpens grow and starters not go as long into games, but then again if a perfect game is intact, the guy will be staying in for the conclusion. As we can see from the frequency and the names involved, you can never predict who it is going to be and when it is going to happen.
If we total up all the days between perfect games (50,376) and then divide it by the number of those who have thrown one (23) we end up with an average of 2,190 days.
So all we have to do is look forward 90 days (Tuesday 14th August) and project the starters, pick one and stick your mortgage on it.
I’m going for Shohei Ohtani @ the Padres or Wade Miley @ the Cubs.