Buehrle's accomplishments could be a touchstone for some MLB record-keeping

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle is embraced by teammate Josh Fields after tossing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays July 23, 2009, at U.S. Cellular Field.

    White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle is embraced by teammate Josh Fields after tossing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays July 23, 2009, at U.S. Cellular Field. Associated Press

  • Mark Buehrle delivers against the Cubs in July 2010.

    Mark Buehrle delivers against the Cubs in July 2010. Associated Press

 
Updated 1/1/2022 10:46 AM

White Sox legend Mark Buehrle ranks along Hall of Famers Warren Spahn, Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry as the only pitchers to start at least 30 games and 200 innings in 14 or more consecutive seasons.

Fellow left-hander Tom Glavine, who was inducted into the HOF in 2014, posted 14 200-inning seasons, but only half those occurred in consecutive seasons. And he felt two seasons short of matching Buehrle's mark of 14 consecutive seasons of at least 30 starts.

 

This isn't a slight on the HOF credentials of Glavine, whose 3.54 ERA is 27 points lower than Buehrle (who faced the designated hitter in all but one of his 16 seasons), possesses 91 more regular-season victories and five 20-win seasons (for those who still value victories).

Buehrle's career ended after the 2015 season, and he would have earned his 15th consecutive 200-inning season had he not been knocked out in the first inning in his final start on the final day of the season.

Despite the addition of David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Buehrle should receive enough support to stay on the HOF ballot when the 2022 results are revealed Jan. 25.

Although Buehrle is a prohibitive long shot to be inducted into the HOF, his achievements might suggest it's time for Major League Baseball to consider adjusting some of its qualifications for annual statistical titles such as ERA leaders, as well as mythical milestones such as 200 innings.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Buehrle's career ended shortly before it became fashionable for starting pitchers to be pulled before they faced batting orders for the third time, no matter how effectively they pitched.

That tactic is often employed in the playoffs, where there's frequently no margin for error. But the Dodgers lost any chance of catching the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series when Rich Hill was pulled after 6⅓ innings with a 4-0 lead in Game 4 despite allowing one hit. The Red Sox rallied for a 9-6 victory and beat the Dodgers in five games.

Ironically, one of the most underrated performances of Buehrle's career occurred in Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series.

The game was overshadowed by A.J. Pierzynski's astute base running on a dropped third strike that led to Joe Crede's walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning.

But Buehrle validated manager Ozzie Guillen's faith by working out of an eighth-inning jam and finishing with a complete-game 2-1 victory that evened the series at 1-1 and sparked the White Sox to eight consecutive victories en route to the World Series title.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pitchers eligible for ERA titles must pitch 162 innings or average an inning in their team's regular season games. The major league average for a starting pitcher in 2021 was five innings, meaning the average starting pitcher who made 30 starts would fall 12 innings short of qualifying for the title.

The MLB average in 2015 -- Buehrle's last season -- was 5.8 innings. Buehrle averaged 6.2 innings per start that season.

Buehrle also would serve as a model for MLB as it finds ways to end the tedious pace of games that turn off fans, especially during the playoffs that approach the midnight hour.

Buehrle didn't need a 20-second clock. He pitched a complete game against the Mariners that took only 1 hour, 39 minutes in 2005. And his no-hitter in 2007 and his perfect game in 2009 each took 2 hours, 3 minutes to complete.

The lesson? You can pitch effectively and quickly at the same time.

While the lunatic fringe foams at the mouth with more ferocity as more voters reveal their HOF ballots while the country tries to cope with the spread of the omicron variant and rising gas and food prices, Buehrle's achievements should provide satisfaction to those who believe starting pitchers should be valued and rewarding.

And the manner in which he earned those marks should serve as a way to improve the game.

@MDGonzales

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.