Major League Baseball should put Mark Buehrle on its committee studying how to speed up games. That’s because Buehrle is Exhibit A of how a pitcher should work on the mound without wasting any time.
Buehrle throws a pitch. He gets the return toss from his catcher and throws a pitch. And it takes him only about as long to do so as it did for you to read the sentence saying so. He doesn’t walk around in circles. He doesn’t stare at the crowd in the grandstand. He is all business.
In a long and distinguished career that has always been Buehrle’s style. He is a 6-foot-2, 240-pound southpaw who does not throw as hard as his size would suggest. He is more crafty than speedy, more clever than overpowering. But it has worked for him for a long time.
Buehrle is concluding his 15th season in the majors. He started his last game of 2014 for the Toronto Blue Jays the other day and will finish with a 13-10 record and a 3.39 earned run average. The time of the game was 1 hour, 59 minutes.
A five-time All-Star Buehrle has a lifetime record of 199 wins and 152 losses with a 3.81 ERA. His overall performance feels better than that, though.
Buehrle made his big-league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2000 and spent 12 seasons with the Sox. He won a high of 19 games in 2002 and was a mainstay of the staff, in part because he never got hurt. Buehrle always makes his full complement of starts. He has never dipped below 30 starts in a season since his rookie year. When his turn in the rotation comes around Buehrle takes the ball like clockwork. As a bonus, he is one of the best fielding pitchers around, winning four Gold Gloves.
After those dozen years with the White Sox, when it seemed that he might become a lifetime Chicagoan, Buehrle became a free agent. This may seem like ancient history, but only a few years ago the Miami Marlins were free spenders. They brought in Ozzie Guillen, Buehrle’s Chicago manager, and some other big-time players.
Then, when things didn’t work out so well in 2012, the Marlins cleaned house. Guillen was fired and half the team was traded to Toronto, including Buehrle. The funniest part about Buehrle’s brief sojourn in the National League was that he had to come to bat regularly. His entire career to that point had been spent in the designated hitter league. Buehrle could only dream of hitting his weight.
Still got it
Buehrle is 35, but a durable 35. He has thrown at least 200 innings every season since 2001. While that was nothing to hurrah about in the old days, it is a pretty notable accomplishment in this era of once-every-five-days starts and quick hooks for the bullpen.
Still operating under the long-term contract he signed with the Marlins, Buehrle has a year to go with the Blue Jays. There is no reason to believe that he can’t keep on pitching in the same manner, winning 13 or so games per year, throwing 200 innings a season, for several more years.