I plugged in Matt Cain’s career numbers. His chances of throwing a no-hitter in any given start are 0.27%. Not too bad! Nolan Ryan’s chances in any given start were 0.35%.
So after figuring that out it’s just a volume game. If Cain makes 100 career starts, we should expect 0.27 no-hitters. It follows that if he makes 364 career starts and maintains his hit rate, he should be expected to throw exactly one no-hitter. (Let’s not get into his hit rate worsening after his peak right now).
Can Cain make that many career starts? I honestly have no idea, but it seems reasonable on the surface (about 13 seasons). John Smoltz is his top comparable, and Smoltz is at 429 starts so far. However, a lot of promising young guys never sniff 300 career starts. Browsing Cain’s top ten comparables, only two have reached 300 (Smoltz and Andy Benes, although Josh Beckett has a shot).
Still, I think it’s fair to say that over the life of his new contract, it’s nearly a coin flip that Cain tosses a no-no.