Mark Buehrle pitched for the Blue Jays for 3 seasons and has been the picture of consistency throughout his career, which may be about to come to an end.
When the Toronto Blue Jays finally clinched their first division title in 22 years, they allowed Mark Buehrle to make one last ditch effort to reach the 200 innings mark for the 15th consecutive time in his career. It didn’t happen, which I’ll get to. But, that does not alter the career that he has had. He has been the mark of consistency since 2001, which has become ever so valuable in today’s pitching market. Teams pay top dollar for a guy who can eat innings and give a league average ERA. But, eventually, all that consistency wears a fella down; it catches up with you. And, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Mark Buehrle is “leaning toward” retirement.
Now, before you brush this off as no big loss, you have to truly appreciate just what Buehrle brought to the Blue Jays, and the Marlins before that, and the White Sox before that. Sherman puts it to us like this:
“What if there was a lefty free agent known for his durability and competitiveness who was coming off a 15-win season in which his ERA was league average at worst (factoring in ballpark and league) for the 14th time in 16 years? What if that lefty didn’t come with draft pick compensation tied to him and probably needed no more than a one-year deal to sign?”
While we should also not really consider this a done deal until Marky Mark actually says the words himself, the idea of his retirement doesn’t really come as a surprise. anyone watching during his “outing” in Baltimore that was designed to give him a shot at 200 innings would tell you that he was gassed. It was so bad that the Blue Jays left him off the playoff roster entirely. The notion that he has nothing left to give seems logical.
But, the bigger idea that we must take away from this is that Mark Buehrle has nothing left to prove. In all honesty, he’s done just about everything you can do. Now, folks will shout at me that he hasn’t won a Cy Young Award. Ever. Nope, he hasn’t. It’s the only thing that is missing. He’s been an All Star. He’s won Gold Gloves, He’s thrown a perfect game. He’s instilled confidence in his team mates every time he takes the mound. He’s been the everyman’s pitcher; the kind of guy who grabs his glove, a ball and goes to work. He wasn’t flashy. He didn’t blow batters away.
But, Mark Buehrle got the job done. And, he did so for 16 years. In total, he’s 214-160 with a 3.81 ERA and a 52 WAR. If he does decide to hang up his spikes, he’ll do so knowing he’s had a solid career. It may not be the type of career that gets a guy into the MLB Hall of Fame. But, one could argue that those kind of seasons will become more and more rare with the way pitchers are protected, etc.
Baseball has changed. Mark Buehrle has not. If you look up the “consistent” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of his face. “Consistent” may not be sexy; it may not be marketable. But, in baseball’s current market, it sure as heck is valuable. Here’s to Mark Buehrle!
*Featured Image: Credit: Keith Allison-flickr-CreativeCommons
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.