Some things in life are just easy to count on. The sun always rises in the East, taxes will always go up, and the seasons will come to pass. Oh, and Mark Buehrle will quietly pitch 200 innings a season…like clockwork.
The 35-year-old lefty is about as consistent a pitcher as one could hope for, and he proved that again on Wednesday night, when Buehrle surpassed the 200-inning mark for the 2014 season, the 14th consecutive time he has hit the mark (no pun intended). With 8 innings of spectacular work on Tuesday night versus the Seattle Mariners, Buehrle now sits at 202 on the season.
In his final start of the season, it all came down to needing to leave it all on the mound. With the Blue Jays now mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, it was easy for the veteran to focus on the task at hand. He did so in vintage Buehrle fashion, giving the team exactly what it needed to stay in the game. Locked in a pitchers’ s duel with young Mariners starter Taijuan Walker, Buehrle matched him pitch for pitch, limiting the Mariners to just 3 hits and a walk, while striking out 10 in the game. Aaron Sanchez would come in for the ninth to button up Buehrle’s 13th victory of the season, the 5th time in his career the lefty has won exactly 13 games.
In today’s day and age, where starting pitchers are coddled with innings limits and specialized bullpens have become the norm, a workhorse like Mark Buehrle is an anomaly in the game. Add in the likelihood of injury with pitchers today and it isn’t likely that we’ll see another starter take the mound with such regularity and consistency from start to start for quite some time.
Out of curiosity, I tried to locate the active pitchers outside of Buehrle to hit the 200 inning threshold consistently. Of those arms, Justin Verlander has hit the mark eight straight seasons (after today’s start, James shield has eight straight, and Felix Hernandez has seven straight. Of those three, only Hernandez has enough youth in front of him to possible challenge the Buehrle’s feat.
Well, I guess I shouldn’t call it Buehrle’s feat, not for at least another season. That’s because the only modern day pitcher I could find that put together more consecutive 200-inning seasons was Don Sutton, who did it in 15 consecutive years. In fact, Sutton would have posted 200-innings in 21 straight seasons if it wasn’t for the strike-shortened 1981 season, when he finished with just 158. Buehrle will have a chance to tie that mark next season, when he returns to the Blue Jays for the final year of his contract with the team.
We’ll be looking forward to having that sort of consistency once again!
The Mark of Consistency