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Justin Verlander's third no-hitter puts him in the elite company and on track for his second Cy Young award

On Sunday, the Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. The dominant Verlander, striking out 14 batters and allowing just one baserunner, came on a walk to Cavan Biggio, the second batter he faced. It was his third career no, which puts him in the kind of company one retains when one is an elite talent.

Consider that Verlander is now tied for the third-most no-hitters of all time, trailing only Nolan Ryan (seven) and Sandy Koufax (four). As for the pitchers Verlander is tied with, it's a group that includes Larry Corcoran, Cy Young, and Bob Feller. That's it; that's the whole class.

Pitchers with three or more no-hitters
1. Nolan Ryan – 7
2. Sandy Koufax – 4
T3. Justin Verlander – 3
T3. Cy Young – 3
T3. Bob Feller – 3
T3. Larry Corcoran – 3

Let's put it another way: five other pitchers in history have thrown at least as many non-hitters as Verlander has to date, and they're all considered some of the best pitchers the sport has ever seen – save Corcoran, whose work came in the 1800s. Heck, one of those pitchers literally serves as the namesake of the top pitching award.

Verlander is familiar with that award, too, having won it before in 2011. He could very well be on the verge of bringing home another one later this year.

Verlander entered Sunday with a 2.69 ERA (167 ERA +) and a 7.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season. He's now amassed 193 innings on 29 starts this year, and has notched a quality start in 22 of those attempts. Dating back to the All-Star Game, he's started 10 times and allowed more than two runs in an outing just once. That's impressive.

Of course Verlander does have some competition for the American League Cy Young Award, especially through the prism of the various advanced metrics out there. Mike Minor led him by nearly a win entering Sunday for Baseball-Reference's Wins Above Replacement metric, and Lance Lynn had an even wider lead for FanGraphs' version. Yet Verlander is the AL leader in WARP, or Baseball Prospectus's catch-all measure. This is without mentioning other worthy competitors – like teammate Gerrit Cole or Charlie Morton – who speaks to how wide the field is this year.

If Verlander finds his way to the top of the ballots – and perhaps an outing like Sunday's will help him overcome whatever differences in numbers – he'll become the 20th pitcher to ever claim multiple Cy Young Awards. (For the curious: Koufax won three; Ryan never won any.)

Factor in Verlander's postseason performance – he's thrown 152 innings of 3.19 ERA for his career, with another playoff trip ahead of him – and it's clear he's one of the best pitchers in recent memory. Even if Verlander never wins another Cy Young, or throws another one, he's done more than enough to secure his eventual induction into Cooperstown.

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