There hasn’t been much to cheer for in Phoenix this season, but rookie southpaw Tyler Gilbert gave the fans who arrived at Chase Field on Saturday night plenty to be excited about.
In his first career start, Gilbert made history with MLB’s eighth no-hitter of the season — the most in the modern era — and became only the second player in the modern era (since 1900) to throw a no-no in his first start, joining the St. Louis Browns’ Bobo Holloman, who threw his no-hitter on May 6, 1953.
“Crazy. It’s not going to hit me for probably another day,” Gilbert said on Bally Sports Arizona’s broadcast after the game. “I don’t know what just happened. That was crazy.”
Twice during the day Saturday, it seemed as if the record could be broken. The Phillies had a combined no-hitter through seven innings against the Reds and the Mets’ Taijuan Walker threw 6 1/3 no-hit innings against the Dodgers. But it was the 27-year-old Gilbert who set the mark, breaking the previous modern mark of seven set in 1990, 1991, 2012 and 2015.
Here’s all you need to know about the history-making left-hander.
First career MLB start
Gilbert didn’t make his major league debut until Aug. 3, when he pitched a scoreless, hitless inning with two strikeouts out of the bullpen.
“It was surreal,” Gilbert said, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “I still can’t believe it. It went about as good as possible.”
His first start also might have been about as good as possible. Only four pitchers ever have thrown a no-hitter in their first career MLB start, and Holloman is the only one to do it since the start of the 1900s.
No-hitter in first MLB start:
ARI Tyler Gilbert, Aug 14 2021
SLB Bobo Holloman, May 6 1953
CIN Bumpus Jones, Oct 15 1892
SLB Ted Breitenstein, Oct 4 1891
— Doug Kern (@dakern74) August 15, 2021
Gilbert’s start wasn’t entirely perfect as he did walk three batters, and he only struck out five, but he was efficient with his pitches. He finished the night having thrown just 102 — 64 for strikes. The Padres certainly helped him late in the game. In the eighth inning, catcher Austin Nola, first baseman Eric Hosmer and right fielder Wil Myers all made outs on the first pitch for a three-pitch frame.
And the Diamondbacks left no doubt about the win as they jumped on Padres starter Joe Musgrove for five runs in the first and won 7-0. Musgrove pitched the first no-hitter of the season on April 9 against the Rangers.
Second chance in Arizona
Gilbert was selected by the Phillies in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but he wasn’t a starter for long in the minors.
He started in eight of his 10 appearances in 2015 and all 23 of his appearances in 2016, but he started just once in 35 games in 2017 and did not make a start again through 2019, his last year in the Phillies’ organization. He found success pitching out of the bullpen; his ERA never reached 4.00. In 2019, his second season at Triple-A, he pitched to a 2.83 ERA in 47 2/3 innings over 36 appearances.
The Phillies traded him to the Dodgers for outfielder Kyle Garlick in February 2020. With no minor league season last year, Gilbert’s career stalled. He was claimed by the Diamondbacks in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft last December. Arizona returned him to the rotation, where he made 10 of his 11 appearances, pitching to a 3.44 ERA, for Triple-A Reno this year.
Gilbert was promoted to the majors for the first time in August and continued to find success. He didn’t allow a run over 3 2/3 innings in three relief appearances prior to Saturday. He struck out five and walked two while allowing just an unearned run on two hits.
Longtime California pitcher
It wasn’t long ago that the best place to watch Gilbert was in California. And as he progressed through the ranks, he kept getting closer and closer to SoCal.
Gilbert went to high school at San Lorenzo Valley before going to Santa Barbara City College for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. There, he made 27 starts, compiling 145 strikeouts and a 3.11 ERA in 168 innings. He gave up 145 hits and walked 38.
His junior college success allowed him to travel farther south to USC, where he transferred for the 2015 season. In his lone season with the Trojans, he made six starts in 22 games, pitching to a 2.79 ERA with 66 strikeouts and a .265 opponents’ batting average over 67 2/3 innings.