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Top 20 Pitchers Likely to Throw Next MLB No-Hitter

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Top 20 Pitchers Likely to Throw Next MLB No-Hitter

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David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

It is said that it’s better to be lucky than good. When it comes to pitching a no-hitter in Major League Baseball, a pitcher really has to be both. He doesn’t have to be dominant all season long or for years at a time, just nine innings. Yet completely dominating for that long against MLB hitters, the best hitters in the world, is easier said than done. Homer Bailey for the Cincinnati Reds has recorded the last two MLB no-hitters. With so many dominant pitchers around this year, who is likely to throw the next one?

A pitcher can dominate for nine innings and give up two or three hits easily. It is very possible to dominate an entire game and not even get a shutout. All of the stars have to align in order for the pitcher to be good enough to throw a no-hitter. He needs a good defense behind him because more than likely someone is going to hit a ball hard somewhere during the game. Walks are okay if we are talking about no-hitters instead of perfect games but that can throw a pitcher’s rhythm off since he has to move to the stretch instead of the wind-up. It’s no big deal unless he has thrown 70 pitches from the wind-up and suddenly has to pitch from the stretch.

So many things can mess up a no-hitter that even the official scorer can have a hand in it. A ball that is misplayed can either go down as a hit or as an error. An error will mess up a perfect game but not a no-hitter. The law of averages tells us that the longer a pitcher goes without giving up a hit, the more likely it is that he will give up a hit. Yet sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they make it all the way and with the last out, everyone that has ignored the pitcher all game long tackles him, holds him up and celebrates a piece of history.

How has the best chance for the next piece of history? For a no-hitter it is good to have a strikeout pitcher that can dominate to where few bats touch the ball. Obviously a Greg Maddux type pitcher found it more difficult to throw a no-hitter because his game was to put the ball in play. Finesse pitchers can throw no-hitters though. It is very possible, just more unlikely. I don’t think anyone will throw seven no-hitters like Nolan Ryan but several have thrown as many as three and one has thrown four.

This is a list of the top 20 MLB pitchers that have the best chance to throw the next no-hitter. There was a time when no-no’s were rare and then last year there were several. Will it be a long time between them now or will the next one come tonight? Either way, these 20 guys are the ones that I believe have the best chance. Some of them are not having good years but if you check history the least consistent pitchers are sometimes the ones that put it all together for one night. Leave a comment below with someone you think I missed or someone you don’t think belongs on the list.

David Miller is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @davidmillerrant, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+.

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20-Homer Bailey-Cincinnati Reds

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

It is almost unthinkable that someone could record three consecutive no-hitters in the line of MLB history but Bailey now has two in a row. As unlikely as it may be, all he needs is the next one and that is three in a row. The fact that it is possible is why he is on this list. The fact that it is unlikely is why he is in spot #20.

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19-Chris Sale-Chicago White Sox

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Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The ace of the White Sox is most certainly one of the pitchers that has the ability to throw a no-hitter. I’m not going to predict a date but Sale is probably going to get a no-hitter at some point within the next few years. He is too dominant and too consistent not too.

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18-Cliff Lee-Philadelphia Phillies

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ironically enough, the fact that it has been a bad year for the Phillies actually makes this seem more possible. Lee is the clear ace of the staff this year and has come within a hit or two of a no-hitter so many times that I figured he had already gotten himself one. He is definitely deserving of being on the short list of guys that could get one soon.

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17-Justin Masterson-Cleveland Indians

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Masterson has been a master of dominating pitching off and on all season. The way his momentum comes and goes, with him giving up a few runs here and coming close to perfect there is a blueprint for a path to a no-hitter. He is close then far away before coming close and one day finally getting it.

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16-Ricky Nolasco-Miami Marlins

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Nolasco is either dominating his opponent or holding his own even if he has bad stuff on that night. He is one of those pitchers who is great but not necessarily considered so by anyone. Especially with the trade deadline spotlight on Nolasco, I would not be shocked to see fate deal him aces within the next few weeks.

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15-Julio Teheran-Atlanta Braves

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Daniel Shirey-USA Today Sports

Though he is the youngest of the Braves successful starting staff, Teheran actually has closer to no-hit type stuff than his fellow starting staff-mates. Already he has taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning with plenty of gas left to make it all the way. It is very possible that Teheran will be the next Braves no-hitter.

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14-Matt Moore-Tampa Bay Rays

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

In looking for possible no-hitter candidates one of the things you look at is the WHIP statistic. Obviously the fewer average walks and hits per inning a guy gives up, the more likely he is to throw a no-hitter. At least that’s true in one line of thinking. Moore has come out of nowhere to have a dominant 11 win season in the first half. It would make a lot of sense for the next no-hitter to switch leagues and come from this Tampa Bay pitcher if he can stretch himself to a full nine innings.

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13-Hisashi Iwakuma-Seattle Mariners

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Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Iwakuma has put up a season this year fit for a ‘King’. He has been every bit as dominant as Felix Hernandez and while he is less likely than Hernandez based on stuff and other factors, he is extremely capable of 27 up and 27 down.

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12-Jeff Samardzija-Chicago Cubs

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Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

From reliever to starter, from starter to ace, this Chicago pitcher’s story just gets better and better. He is one of the most dominant strikeout pitchers in the National League and has gotten to the point that he can easily be thrown all nine innings. Isn’t a no-hitter the logical next chapter in the story of Jeff Samardzija? I think it could be. He throws a no-hitter and supplies all the offense in 3 – 0 win with a three-run homer. Stranger things have happened.

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11-Jeff Locke-Pittsburgh Pirates

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If you came into this season not knowing who Jeff Locke was, chances are you know of him now. He has emerged as the ace of the Pirates staff with his off and on dominance this season becoming steadily more consistently dominant. He has all the tools and the momentum to strike it rich in any upcoming start.

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10-Cole Hamels-Philadelphia Phillies

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It might seem crazy to put the 2 – 11 Hamels in the top 10 of this list but think about it for a minute. Hamels has been one of the best pitchers in MLB for his entire career. This year things have stunk for him but he still is the same guy and could recapture that dominance at any time, even if it just for nine innings. A rebound no-hitter is certainly a possibility for Hamels. Also consider that it could be next season before the next no-hitter and Hamels will surely get things straight by then.

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9-Jordan Zimmermann-Washington Nationals

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing against Stephen Strasburg but the next Washington Nationals no-hitter will probably come from his teammate Jordan Zimmermann. Zimm has been at one point the most dominant pitcher in the National League this year. He is much more than capable to throw one any time out. Any time of less-than-stellar pitching for this guy just makes a no-hitter even more likely.

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8-Felix Hernandez-Seattle Mariners

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

“King” Hernandez already has one no-hitter to his name and while he hasn’t been cy-young caliber all season long, that makes it more possible for his dominance to show up for a nine inning span. He has such good stuff that he literally could throw one at any time against anyone.

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7-Francisco Liriano-Pittsburgh Pirates

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Liriano is pitching every bit as good as he was for the Minnesota Twins back in 2011 when his first no-hitter happened. With lady luck resting firmly on the side of the Pirates right now, Liriano is plenty dominant enough for MLB’s next no-hitter to be his number two.

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6-Justin Verlander-Detroit Tigers

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you subscribe to the theory that a raged animal backed into a corner is at his most dangerous then you understand why Verlander is high on this list. He has been the best pitcher in MLB for years now and already has two no-hitters to his credit. This season he has already come close to a third. His struggles for the last month or more are so unlike him that he becomes even more dangerous with each less-than-perfect start.

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5-Matt Harvey-New York Mets

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets had to wait a very long time for their first franchise no-hitter but I doubt very seriously they will have to wait that long for number two. Matt Harvey has come close already in this, his breakout season. When he is on, he dominates to a point of perfection. It won’t be long before he either gets close again or gets one to his name.

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4-Adam Wainwright-St Louis Cardinals

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Wainwright had to get over the obstacle of being injured but even that has not derailed his clear position as one of the greatest active pitchers in MLB. Though he hasn’t thrown a no-hitter yet, his could happen at any day. He could reel off 15 strikeouts in a no-hitter at the drop of a hat.

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3-Clayton Kershaw-Los Angeles Dodgers

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The one and only reason Kershaw hasn’t added his name to the no-hitter roster as of yet is that he has only been around for a few years. Unless he hits some type of strange slump that last forever, Kershaw is too competitive and too great not to reach perfection at some point. He is the type of guy that gets angry if he gives up one single run and probably isn’t too happy when he walks one or gives up one hit. One day soon, he won’t.

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2-Yu Darvish-Texas Rangers

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The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

In his first start of 2013 Darvish came within one out of not only a no-hitter but a perfect game. That level of let down takes a little time to unwind from but Darvish hasn’t gone off the deep end or anything. He is there and his time for perfection is coming. Chances are it will come fairly soon, at least within the next calendar year.

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1-Max Scherzer-Detroit Tigers

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers already have Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander with no-hitters to their credit but neither one were as dominant as Scherzer has been this year. He has been so good in fact that it almost seems unlikely that he will throw a no-hitter. It is only his strikeout and dominance factor that has him on top of the list. He is consistently a shutout and shut down pitcher. The logical next step in his season should be a no-hitter if not perfect game.