The long and illustrious sixteen year career of Mark Buehrle ended Sunday after a first inning meltdown against the Tampa Bay Rays. After fourteen straight seasons throwing 200 innings or more for the White Sox, Marlins, and Blue Jays, Buehrle came just an inning and a third short of a fifteenth consecutive season, which is the most of any active player. Despite giving up eight unearned runs in his final appearance on Sunday afternoon, Buehrle will still be remembered as one of the most, if not the most, consistent pitchers of his era.
Following a start on Friday night, a start in which Buehrle gave up four runs in six and two thirds innings, the Blue Jays decided to bring Hom back on only one day of rest in order to pitch two innings to get his fifteenth consecutive season of at least 200 innings pitched. It was also announced that it would be Buehrle’s last appearance as he would be retiring following Sunday’s game. The Blue Jays are going to the playoffs, but it seems unlikely that Buehrle would be included on the postseason roster following his retirement announcement.
In 2015, in his sixteenth season in the majors, Buehrle was still effective, finishing the season with a record of 15-7 and an ERA of 3.82 all while providing some much needed consistency to a Jays pitching staff that went through a lot of changes over the course of the season. Other than R.A. Dickey, Buerhle was the only Blue Jays starter to pitch over thirty starts with the team this season (given the injury to Marcus Stroman, the midseason trade for David Price and the inconsistency of others in the staff).
Buehrle will be most remembered for his top-notch command and finesse on the mound. While the best pitchers of his time mostly overpowered hitters, Buehrle was able to dominate hitters with a strong command of the strike zone and intelligence that few others showed. Despite still being consistent and pitching strong into his sixteenth season, Buerhle has chosen to end his career on his terms, and while he is still effective.
Despite 214 career victories, and fourteen straight seasons of over 200 innings pitched, it seems unlikely that Mark Buehrle will have done enough over the course of his career to justify being voted into the Hall of Fame. Even without a Hall of Fame induction, Buehrle will still be remembered as one of the most consistent pitchers of the modern era, and maybe even one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball history. Either way, Buehrle has had a noteworthy career, and one that will be remembered for years to come.