Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher Mark Buehrle Making Early Case for All-Star Selection

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Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher Mark Buehrle Making Early Case for All-Star Selection
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

One month into the 2014 season, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle has emerged not only as the best pitcher on the team’s rotation, but also as one of the best starters in the American League.

In fact, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that Buehrle’s performance so far has put him in the conversation for a selection to the All-Star Game.  

Yes, you heard that right.

This is the same Mark Buehrle who has developed a reputation across the league of being consistent but mediocre throughout his career.

The consistency comes from the fact that the 35-year-old has put together a stretch of 13 straight seasons in which he’s had at least 10 wins and 200 innings pitched each season.

The mediocrity label many are quick to tab Buehrle with comes as a result of his career 3.84 ERA over those last 13 seasons.

But this year has been different, as Buehrle has gone 6-1 in his first seven starts while posting a 1.91 ERA. He’s walked just 12 hitters in 47 innings pitched and has surrendered only one home run during that span.

The six wins are the highest for any pitcher in the American League, while the 1.91 ERA ranks Buehrle second in the AL among all pitchers who have made at least seven starts.

The amazing part about this performance is that Buehrle hasn’t suddenly pulled a “Bartolo Colon” by beginning to throw harder with age.

His fastball tops out at 85 mph and the rest of his pitches are all soft. But the left-hander’s pinpoint command and knack for making the right pitch at the right time end up negating the lack of velocity.

Indeed, opposing hitters are sometimes so confused by the deceptive Buehrle that they end up swinging late—late!—on his mid-80s fastballs.

Another surprising fact about Buehrle’s torrid start to the 2014 season is that he’s been a notoriously slow starter in the past. It was just last year when he posted a 6.35 ERA in April before going on to post an ERA under 4.00 during three of the next five months.

The Blue Jays have certainly benefitted from Buehrle’s early-season dominance, as the rest of the pitchers in Toronto’s rotation who have made five starts or more all currently have ERAs over 4.00 and have combined for just six wins.

If Buehrle can continue this pace or even perform at a level somewhere close to this, he should find himself at Target Field in July making his first All-Star appearance since the 2009 season.

 

*All stats are from baseball-reference.com

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