Last night Homer Bailey threw his second no-hitter in less than a season, looking more like Justin Verlander than the real Justin Verlander. My first reaction was "that fifth starter got lucky again!". Philip Humber and Armando Galarraga can throw perfect games and then quickly pitch their way out of the rotation. But getting lucky twice in season seems too much for dumb luck.
Reviewing Homer Bailey's career we see a pitcher who made the big leagues very young, was a marginal talent for a number of years, but has steadily improved to be valuable. If that sounds like Rick Porcello, Baseball Reference agrees. They list Homer Bailey as the second most similar pitcher to Porcello in the history of the game.
Homer Bailey has followed a career path very similar to Rick Porcello. Rick was promoted to the Tigers at age 20, Homer to the Reds at 21. Rick has 135 career starts, Homer has 128. Homer has a career ERA of 4.36, Rick's is 4.63 and comparable given he sees a designated hitter more often. Homer has 755 innings pitcher, Rick 778. Homer's strikeout rake began around five per nine innings, as did Rick's. It has steadily climbed, to just over seven at ages 25 and 26, and now to nine. Rick's has climbed to over seven this year. Homer has allowed 85 home runs. Rick has allowed..... 85 home runs.
Homer's WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) started above 1.5 and has descended below 1.1 this year. Rick's career WHIP is 1.4 and has descended below 1.3 this year. Homer has improved from a fifth starter to a valuable member of a rotation for a team that is built to compete for the playoffs. Rick is on the path to do the same, with more room to improve. Because while Homer is 27 years old, Rick is still only 24.