Joe Musgrove’s season is off to about as good a start as he or the San Diego Padres could have imagined.
In case you haven’t heard, Joe Musgrove threw the first no-hitter in Padres history.
The storyline is that of Disney storybook proportions, with him getting it done for the hometown team he grew up watching and getting a mural quickly made in his honor at his alma mater, Grossmont High School, which is just 15 miles from Petco Park.
Musgrove was as close to perfect as a pitcher can get without being so on that fateful Friday, April 9, in Arlington, Texas. He struck out 10 Rangers without walking a soul. A ball hit Joey Gallo in the fourth inning, his lone blemish.
Now four starts into his 2021 season and Padres career, Musgrove’s season goes much deeper than that historic outing that finally got the Padres off of the no-hitter schneid. He started the season with two straight scoreless outings, 15 innings-worth in total, with 18 strikeouts and zero walks. Since his no-hitter, while yes, he allows a hit every now and then, he has been just as sharp, especially with his lethal breaking ball.
In his encore outing following the no-hitter, he understandably only went four innings on 81 pitches. The Padres clearly wanted to give him respite after that 112-pitch masterpiece. Still, he allowed just one run and struck out six in his limited outing.
During his most recent start, he once again looked like the same Musgrove that no-hit the Rangers just 10 days earlier, tossing seven solid innings, striking out a whopping 13 while just allowing two runs. Those two runs were a season-high which ballooned his ERA to a whopping 1.04.
He currently leads the National League in innings pitched with 26 and is second in strikeouts at 37. He is one of just two pitchers in the N.L. with a complete game shutout under his belt. His minuscule ERA is fourth in the league.
Per Baseball Savant, the 28-year-old is in the 98th percentile for chase rate and 95th percentile for fastball spin rate. Among starters, he is seventh in the entire league in walks per nine innings and fourth in Major League Baseball in strikeouts per walk.
Quite simply, Musgrove is currently one of the five best starting pitchers in baseball. If he continues on this pace, not only will he earn his first all-star bid, but he will receive strong consideration for the Cy Young Award.
Joe Musgrove, Disgusting 84mph Slider. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/odp4zRLMWp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 20, 2021
Of course, there is a lot of the season to play still. It’s easy to overreact when someone is throwing up numbers that are tough to rack up on MLB The Show, let alone real life. If he pitches the entire season without incident, he is looking at another 26-plus starts. A lot can still happen.
That being said, he is off to the best start a pitcher can imagine. The El Cajon native has already immortalized himself in Padres lore and in the hearts of the Friar faithful with his no-hitter. The cool thing is it doesn’t look like he is interested in that being his only accomplishment in San Diego.
There is another thing his hometown team lacks that he can help bring home, but a lot has to happen before October. For now, the team needs to focus on pulling up out of this tailspin in which they currently find themselves, having lost seven of their last ten games. Musgrove thus far has been a bright light of hope during a topsy-turvy start to 2021 for the Friars.