Toronto Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle will take the ball this afternoon looking for just two innings, enough to reach 200 for the 15th season in a row. According to a report from Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago, these will be the final innings of Buehrle’s career.
Today would be Buehrle’s 493rd start, and if this truly is the end for the beloved lefty, he’ll leave the game with a career record of 214-159 and a 3.81 ERA. A five time All Star, Buehrle leads all active pitchers in innings pitched.
Along with being one of the most talented defenders at his position throughout his career, Buehrle would leave the game as one of baseball’s most universally respected men. In a game that can be known for some rather abrasive personalities and a veteran hierarchy, the memory I’ll keep fondest from Buehrle’s time in Toronto is his decision to take the rookies out shopping in New York during their first road trip there, buying each a new suit.
“He’s had a tremendous career,” manager John Gibbons told Shi Davidi after Buehrle’s most recent start. “It’s an honour for me to have a chance to manage these three years here. He’s been one of the best in baseball year after year, just durability, wins, he’s doing everything right. I had some goosebumps when I was taking the ball from him because he’s a special guy. But his career speaks for itself.”
Closing the book (reportedly) on Buehrle sneaking onto the playoff roster also allows us to focus in more on Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera, who seem to be competing for the 7th bullpen spot behind Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez, Brett Cecil, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Lowe and Liam Hendriks. With Loup still seeking consistency, though, and Tepera offering nothing that isn’t already represented in the names above, it doesn’t appear that the Blue Jays will receive much impact from that spot on the roster.
Buehrle will still stay with the club through the playoffs, of course, as many injured players or those who failed to crack the final 25 will do. Any of these players could find themselves thrust back onto the roster should the Blue Jays run into an injury. As it stands, though, this afternoon will be our final opportunity to watch Buehrle work his craft.