Good morning! To my knowledge, no NFL teams are planning any unveilings or announcements today. Crazy, right?
Now then: Above left is the first pitch thrown in last night’s Yankees/Mets game; above right is the final pitch. I trust that you can see what they have in common: Yankees starter Domingo Germán and Mets reliever Adam Ottavino both wear No. 0.
That led to a fun question last night from Twitter-er @stevenwoj:
— steven woj (@stevenwoj) July 26, 2023
Let me slightly rephrase Steven’s question: Was last night the first time the first and last pitches of a game have been thrown by two different zero-clad pitchers?
Answer: Yes! Let me explain how I came to that conclusion:
- According to baseball-reference.com, only four pitchers have ever worn No. 0: two starters (Germán, who only began wearing No. 0 this season after previously donning Nos. 50, 55, 64, and 65, and Marcus Stroman, currently with the Cubs, who’s been wearing No. 0 since 2021) and two relievers (Ottavino, who’s worn No. 0 for several teams since 2013, and Kent Emanuel, who appeared in 10 games for the Astros in 2021).
- Germán has only worn No. 0 this year, and last night was his first start against the Mets this year, so that means there have been no other Germán/Ottavino 0/0 games. That in turn means any other 0/0 games were started by Stroman, because he’s the only other zero-clad starter.
- In 2021, Stroman was pitching for the Mets. 2021 was Emanuel’s only big league season, and none of his 10 game appearances came against the Mets. So there have been no Stroman/Emanuel 0/0 games, which means the only remaining possibilities would be Stroman/Ottavino games. And Stroman began wearing No. 0 in 2021, so that’s our starting point.
- In 2021, Stroman was with the Mets and Ottavino was with the Red Sox. Only one of Stroman’s starts was against Boston, and Ottavino did not appear in that game. (Moreover, the game was in Boston, so Stroman didn’t throw the game’s first pitch — Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez did.) So that takes care of 2021.
- In 2022, Stroman was with the Cubs and Ottavino was with the Mets. Only one of Stroman’s starts was against the Mets; while Ottavino did appear in that game, he was not the Mets’ final pitcher and thus did not throw the game’s final pitch. (This appears to be the only other game that has featured two zero-clad pitchers, period.) That takes care of 2022.
- In 2023, Stroman and Ottavino are still with the Cubs and Mets, respectively. Stroman has had one start against the Mets, and Ottavino did not appear in that game.
Conclusion: Last night was the first time the first and last pitches of an MLB game have been thrown by two different zero-clad pitchers! Q.E.D.
Update: I originally stated in this post that Germán had thrown the first and last pitches of his perfect game last month, and that we therefore had precedent for the first and last pitches of a game being thrown by a zero-clad pitcher but not by two different zero-clad pitchers. But reader/commenter Matt Kuhn quickly pointed out that Germán’s perfect game took place in Oakland, not in New York, so Germán didn’t throw the first pitch of that game — Oakland starter JP Sears did.
That was Germán’s only complete game in this, his only zero-clad season. But with that game now taken off the board, we have to look at Stroman. He had no complete games in 2021 or ’22, but he’s had one this season, on May 29, and it was a Cubs home game. So that was the first game in which the first and last pitches were thrown by a zero-clad pitcher, and last night was the first time it’s been done by two different zero-clad pitchers.
(My thanks to @stevenwoj for coming up with the excellent question that resulted in this post and to Matt Kuhn for spotting my error regarding Germán’s perfect game.)