MLB betting: Will any pitcher throw a no-hitter in 2020?

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in Spring Training.
Photo of Matt Wiesenfeld

Matt Wiesenfeld

MLB

Show Bio

I have been an active handicapper and content provider covering sports betting for more than a decade. I hail from Canada but am definitely no puck head, preferring to build my bankroll with the NFL, MLB, NBA and NCAAs. Always looking for the underdogs that win outright. They are way more fun to root for too.

Long season or short season, pitching is still critical to team and betting success. The 2020 Major League Baseball campaign is going to be unprecedented because it has been some time since a season has been truncated, for any reason. That this season is shortened due to a global pandemic puts an emphasis on health, and when it comes to pitching most franchises are already treating their prized arms like Faberge eggs…which I have never truly understood, especially when it comes unproven arms.  Let those guys pitch. That’s supposed to be their job. 

There are two schools of thought here. The first is that this practice of babying arms will continue and that teams–with all eyes looking at health and safety even more these days, along with the intense overvaluing of tomorrow–will be even more cautious. I would peg that at about 99 percent certainty. The other thought is that some brave team might just go for it in this sprint of a season and actually let its pitchers pitch, thanks to a year in which even one game in the first month is just that much more pivotal. I guess that would have to be a one percent probability.


No-hitter history

Personal editorial aside, let’s take a look at a few numbers before we make a choice on either side of this bet.

  • There have been 303 no-hitters in MLB history–so they are not all that uncommon. (I thought there were less)
  • There were three no-hitters last season, although two were combined.  (I think I remembered only one)
  • The last season without a no-hitter was 2005–so betting on at least one seems very reasonable.

In breaking down this bet I tried to consider a couple of things, especially in reference to our oddball season this year. The first was schedule timing. Since we are only getting a 60-game season, I was very curious to see how many recent no-hitters occurred in April and May–as a cutoff point for “early season.” It is not totally in line, but I hope you get the point. Since 2010 there have been 13 no-hitters in those months and only one of those was of the combined variety. That’s more than I would have thought and the numbers suggest that teams will let a pitcher keep going if they are truly on a roll, even early in a season.  

Looking at it more broadly (beyond April and May), while there are a number of one-no-hit wonders on the roll call of no-hitter pitchers, there are also a number of well-established pitchers still in the game that have done it before; guys like Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and also Justin Verlander, who threw one just last season. All three of those guys are getting Opening Day starts (check out our free MLB expert picks). I am not sure of the true value of this, but if past experience is an indicator of future performance there could be something to it. Everybody has to have their first at some point and at least we know the pressure shouldn’t get to them. 

Verdict

In the final analysis, it is hard to know what to expect in this adjusted season. I think there might be some surprise teams, but we might not see exciting events like a no-hitter. While I am hoping that teams are going to let pitchers pitch, that likely to only apply to vets like a Verlander. As per the percentages, I think teams are more likely to get in their own way more than they need to. They rarely let pitchers complete what they start anymore. Last year two pitchers led the majors with just three complete games. 

I am going to say a No on this one as it just seems to make more sense. One thing I just thought of, though, is the fun tracking this bet on the way to cashing. Just think about it; all you have to do is tune in until the first hit, then move on to the next game…. Wish I had thought of that before! Does anyone take a Yes/No bet on no-hitters from game to game. I wonder what those odds would be….


Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook

$3000

No Sweat First Bet up to $3,000 - Guaranteed

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $3,000!

Get refunded up to $3,000 in bonus bets if you lose

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at fanduel.com/sportsbook.

Unibet

$100

Virginia Bettors- Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

bet365

$200

Bet $1 and Get $200 in Free Bets at bet365!

Register for a new bet365 account

Place qualifying bets of $1 or more

Get $200 in free bets - no matter if your bet wins or loses

New Customer Offer. Deposit required. Free Bets added to Free Bet Credits balance. Free Bet risk excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits, and exclusions apply. Must be physically located in VA.

BetRivers

$500

Get a $500 Risk-Free Bet

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

DraftKings

$200

Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets Instantly

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Make your first deposit and bet $5 on any sports market

Receive $200 in bonus bets instantly, no matter what!

Gambling Problem? Call 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (CO/IL/IN/LA/MD/MI/NJ/PA/TN/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA). 21+ (18+ WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/KS/LA(select parishes)/MD/MI/NJ/NY/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Void in OH/ONT. Eligibility restrictions apply. Valid 1 per new customer. Min. $5 deposit. Min. $5 bet. $200 issued as free bets that expire 7 days (168 hours) after being awarded. See terms at sportsbook.draftkings.com..

PointsBet

$500

Get $100 in Free Bets, for 5 Days Straight starting

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,250

Your First Cash Bet Is On Caesars Up To $1,250

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account and Place your 1st wager of $10 or more

If you lose, you get 100% of your stake back as a Bet Credit - up to $1,250.

AND win or lose, you’ll also get 1,000 Reward Credits® and 1,000 Tier Credits.

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get $1,000 Paid Back in Bonus Bets, if you Don't Win

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000!

Get refunded up to $1,000 in bonus bets if you don't win

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get up to $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

Underdog Fantasy

$100

First deposit is 100% matched up to $100 with Underdog Fantasy

Sign up for a new account with Underdog Fantasy

Make your first deposit

Every dollar (up to $100) will be matched! Deposit $25, get $50; deposit $100, get $200, etc

Must be 21+ to play. Terms & conditions apply