Six years, two months and five days. This may seem like a very short window of time. For most normal people, it indeed is a short time.
However, when you’re 27 years old and making your MLB debut after that amount of time, it might feel a lot longer than six years, two months and five days. When you’re pitching in just your 4th major league game; or pitching against one of the best lineups in the majors; when it wasn’t that long ago you were working as an electrician for your dad and his company; six years, two months and five days are a lifetime.
Tyler Gilbert pitched MLB’s 8th no-hitter last night where the story leading up to the feat is better than the feat itself. It’s a story that baseball fans clamor for and the player themselves always dream of while growing up. As easy as it would be to share the story of a no-hitter, let’s focus on the road Tyler traveled to get to August 14th and his first MLB start.
Drafted in the 6th round of the Amatuer Baseball Draft in 2015, Tyler signed his first big league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on June 18th. He had his sights set on making it to the show sooner rather than later. He remained in the Phillies organization for his entire pro career leading up to 2020 but never made it to the big club. His highest climb in the minors was to AAA with a stop in the Dominican Winter League in 2018.
The Middle – Where Everything Went Goofy
Everything was looking good for Tyler as he was preparing for Spring Training 2020. He’d been traded before the season. Citizens Bank Park was no longer his goal. He had hopes he’d reach the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium soon, if not right out of camp. Then, COVID changed the world. For players like Tyler, it changed more than just a little as not only did training camp get shut down, so did his current team in the minor leagues. Similar to many of his minor league peers Tyler was suddenly without a job and needing to find a way to both work and workout. Enter, dad and becoming an electrician.
For the bulk of 2020, Tyler worked alongside his dad pulling cable, checking power sources and anything else your local electrician does during a normal day. But Tyler didn’t have a normal day. Between jobs, before and after work, at lunch or any spare time, he could find he’d throw bullpen sessions to an old high school coach. Something was better than nothing as he tried to keep his arm strength and memory at its best despite not seeing any hitters.
As the offseason reached its midway point and the GM Meetings were in full swing, Tyler’s life changed one more time. The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted him in the minor league portion of the RuleV draft. Maybe a change of scenery would help move his MLB dreams a little faster. After 11 games in Reno, he got the call every minor leaguer wants; Phoenix was next.
Back to Baseball
August 3rd Tyler got into his first MLB game as a reliever. Three batters, 19 pitches and 2K’s later, he had his first hold. But Arizona had him working as a starting pitcher in Reno. They saw him as a starter and this short stint out of the pen was a simple act of allowing him to get his feet wet as a big leaguer. After two more games out of the bullpen, Tyler found himself ready to start his first MLB game. That call to take the bump as a starter came on a hot August night in Phoenix. A game against a star-studded lineup for the San Diego Padres. Arizona is seemingly playing out the rest of the season looking at guys for next year hoping they can capture a few magic moments along the way to another last place finish in the NL West. Little did the D-Backs or Tyler Gilbert know August 14th would be that night of magic.
Game of a Lifetime
What was to be a simple start of 5-6 innings or 85 pitches turned into a night of nerves for Tyler’s family and coaches. Dad could be seen on camera multiple times, pacing like every dad of a ball player does. Diamondbacks manager, Torey Lovullo, was shown several times looking at his lineup card and darting glances at any coach in the dugout looking for a reprieve from his nerves. The calmest guy in the dugout, Tyler Gilbert. He knew he had the stuff to be a dominant pitcher. There was a chance to go a full 9 innings. He just didn’t know if he would get the chance.
After an 8th inning where Tyler threw all of 3 pitches, he knew he was getting a chance to throw his first career no-hitter. He took his place on top of the mound to start the 9th. His family (mom, dad, girlfriend and girlfriend’s parents) could hardly contain their excitement and anxiousness as the 9th inning began. His teammates who had left him isolated after the 5th inning were now showing signs of their excitement as well. The entire crowd of D-Backs fans in attendance were cheering continuously. Every pitch the tension grew. Finally, on pitch 102, Gilbert coaxed a line drive off the bat of Tommy Pham right to CF Ketel Marte to complete the no-hitter. The first no hitter thrown by a D-Backs pitcher in their own house. The first no-hitter by a rookie pitcher making their first major league start since Bobo Holloman in 1953.
The Ending is Just Beginning
This evening belonged to Tyler Gilbert. It belonged to his family. The hard work was finally paying off. The journey through the minors was finally worth the blood, sweat and tears. Long summer days pulling electrical cable with dad as a not so distant memory.
Tyler Gilbert's dad had an amazing reaction to his son's no-hitter. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/11MGrvvLIF
— MLB (@MLB) August 15, 2021
Long summer nights of throwing to a former coach over. A lost season in the rearview mirror. Six years, two months and five days led to the most dramatic no-hitter of 2021. It took six years, two months and five days to remind everyone that dreams do come true.