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The Season That Was: Mark Buehrle

Mark Buehrle
Mark Buehrle
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

When we got Mark Buehrle in that big trade with the Marlins, Mark wasn't the one we were excited about. We were getting Jose Reyes (yay), Josh Johnson (yay), even Emilio Bonifacio was interesting, but Buehrle was greeted with a yawn. He was an innings eater, which had become an insult around here. Josh Towers was an innings eater. Brian Tallet was an innings eater. We'd rather someone that was good.

But then, after a 2012, when we used 12 different starting pitchers, a guy that could give us 6 or 7 innings a start, with a league average ERA seemed like a useful piece. Just an aside, it isn't all that many years ago, the 1960's and 70's and before, that calling a starting pitcher a '7 inning pitcher' was an insult. It meant a guy that didn't finish what he started. Who would want someone like that. Now, a 7 inning pitcher is something to be admired. But I digress.

We figured that a guy that could get us 200+ inning, 33 starts, with a league average ERA, with the offense we were expecting, could get us a good number of wins. There were some worries that someone with his mix of slow and slower pitches might not be able to compete in the AL East.

Cee Angi thought we'd love him, (can I say I really miss our occasional posts from Cee? She's a really good writer) which gave us one of our more heated comment threads, for reasons that escape my understanding.

In our prediction thread I guessed:

I'll guess 4.45 ERA, 15-9, in 201 innings to keep the streak alive.

In real life he did this:

2013 - Mark Buehrle 12-10 33 33 1 1 0 0 203.2 223 100 94 24 51 139 4.15 1.35

So, well, I wasn't terribly far off.

Fangraphs has him at a 2.5 WAR, giving him a value of $12.7 million to the Jays. We paid $8 of his $11 million earned this year. The next two seasons he is to make $18 and $19 million respectively. I don't think there is much chance he'll give us value for the money, but I'd be happy if he keeps a 2+WAR.

Mark's strikeout rate actually rose in 2013 (6.14/9, up from 5.56 in 2012). His walk rate rose too (2.25/9, up from 1.78, still pretty terrific). His home run rate actually dropped (1.06/9, down from 1.16), hard to believe, considering he came from the NL East to the AL East.

His BABIP against jumped from .270 in 2012 to .305 in 2013, he likely wasn't helped but our pretty lousy defense. He gave up fewer line drives (20.6% from 22.4% in 2011). More ground balls (45.3%, up from 41.3%). Fewer fly balls (34.1% down from 36.3%). And fewer of his fly balls went for home runs (10.6% from 11.4%).

His FIP was 4.10 and his xFIP was 4.09, right near his ERA.

Not surprisingly Mark was slight better vs. LHB (.256/.311/.414) than against RHB (.283/.329/.435).

He was quite a bit better at home (8-4, 3.36 ERA, batters hit .268/.322/.422 with 12 home runs) than on the road (4-6, 4.94, batters hit .285/.326/.438 with 12 home runs). I don't understand why that would be, but I'll take it.

Buehrle by month:

April: 1-1, 6.35 ERA in 5 starts, 28.1 innings. Batters hit .306/.354/.504 with 6 homers against him.

May: 1-2, 4.89 ERA in 6 starts, 38.2 innings. Batters hit .247/.315/.418 with 5 home runs.

June: 2-2, 3.50 ERA in 6 starts, 36 innings. Batters hit .283/.333/.400 with 2 home runs.

July: 3-2, 2.75 ERA in 5 starts, 36 innings. Batters hit .235/.266/.324 with 3 home runs.

August: 4-0, 2.70 ERA in 6 starts, 40 innings. Batters hit .268/.315/.412 with 4 home runs.

September: 1-3, 5.84 ERA in 5 starts, 24.2 innings. Batters hit .340/.377/.566 with 4 home runs .

As you likely remember, his season did a sudden turn after his May 6th start against the Rays. He gave up 7 runs, in the 3rd inning and Gibby left him in for 3 more innings. But we came back for the win and Mark turned things around. After that game, he had a 7.03 ERA and we were pretty tired of him. From then, until September, every start he made lowered his ERA. If we could have the June, July, August Buehrle, life would be great. I wonder if he tired at the end of the season nor if he found it hard to focus with the team well out of the race?

His longest win streak was 6 games, lasting from July 25 to August 30. His longest losing streak was 3 games. His best Game Score was a 90, on July 25th against the Astros. He pitched a complete game shutout, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks, with 9 strikeouts. His worst Game Score was a 7 on September 10, against the Angels. He allowed 8 earned, 12 hits, 1 walk, 3 home runs, with 2 strikeouts in 4.0 innings.

I do really enjoy watching Mark pitch (when he is doing ok). He keeps things moving. I like that. Hopefully, next season won't start as badly for him. I love baseball, but I don't need games lasting 3 hours or more. He does generally start seasons slowly but this season was a very extreme case. I doubt he's ever started that badly before. Part of it was the defense behind him. He does need teams turning double plays behind him and turning every ball into an out that he can get. He isn't one that can overcome bad defense. I'm hoping next year's defense is better and he gets off to a much better start to the year.