Mark Buehrle (born March 23, 1979 in St. Charles, Missouri) is a left-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who has played for the Chicago White Sox since 2000. Buehrle is a command pitcher, relying on finesse and accuracy in lieu of any one overpowering pitch. He throws a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider, a balanced attack with no one "out pitch". He has also pitched over 220 innings for all five years he has pitched as a starter, becoming a well-known workhorse. He is considered the elder statesman of the White Sox pitching staff and has started the opening game of every season since 2002.
Part of what has allowed Buehrle to pitch so many innings is his remarkable efficiency on the mound, getting batters out quickly and thus not allowing his pitch count to rise early in games. As an illustration, on April 16, 2005, he finished a game against the Seattle Mariners in only 1 hour and 39 minutes, giving up only 1 run and 3 hits (all to Ichiro Suzuki), and backed by only two White Sox hits, both homers by Paul Konerko. He threw 106 pitches. Subtracting the time spent between innings, the game took only 63 1/2 minutes to play.
Mark attended Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri. Drafted by the White Sox organization, he would make only 36 appearances in the minors, only 16 of which were above Class A, before being called up to the Majors on July 16, 2000. He was one of eight Sox pitchers to earn his first career win in 2000 and one of seven to make his major-league debut. His first game came on July 16 against the Milwaukee Brewers. He pitched an inning of relief allowing a run. Three days later he was starting in Minnesota where he scattered six hits and two runs over 7 innings of work for his first win in his first start. Despite his early promotion Buehrle .was named Southern League Pitcher of the Year, named a Second-Team Minor League All-Star as well as the No. 9 Prospect in the White Sox organization. He also took part in the Futures Game during All-Star Weekend picking up the win.
Buehrle far exceeded expectations for his first full season, finishing with a 16-8 record, a 3.29 ERA and statistics near the top of the league in almost every category. He threw 24.2 consecutive scoreless innings (May 26-June 7), the most by a Sox pitcher since Tommy John threw 25 scoreless frames in 1967. He recorded his first complete game May 26 at Detroit. He would also toss back to back complete games on August 3 vs. Tampa Bay and August 8 at Anaheim. His complete game against the Devil Rays on August 3 was a one-hitter.
The 2002 season was little different from Buehrle's first. He posted a 19-12 record and again topped 220 innings, ranking among the American League leaders in IP (2nd, 239.0), games started (T2nd, 34), complete games (T2nd, 5), shutouts (T2nd, 2), wins (T4th, 19) and quality starts (T5th, 23). Buehrle lasted at least 6.0 IP 30 times and 8.0 IP nine times. At the end of the season he was selected as a member of the Major League All-Star Team that played in Japan in November. In his one start, he allowed four runs on five hits over 3.0 IP, before leaving with a bruised left shoulder sustained when hit by a line drive off the bat of Hideki Matsui. FOX Sports Net Chicago honored him as the White Sox Player of the Year.
After proving to be a rubber arm in 2002, Buehrle went on to set a career high with 35 starts in 2003. He threw 220 innings and struck out 100 for the third year in a row. By year's end he ranked among the American League leaders in starts (T2nd), quality starts (3rd, 24) and IP (5th). Two milestones for Buehrle in 2003 were his 100th start on September 2 against Boston and his 50th career win against Texas on August 23.
In 2004 Buehrle led the American League in IP with 245.1 and again started 35 games. He ranked among the AL leaders in complete games (T1st, 5), starts (T1st, 35), quality starts (3rd, 23), shutouts (T4th, 1), fewest walks per 9.0 IP (5th, 1.87), wins (T6th, 16), strikeout to- walk ratio (7th, 3.24), ERA (8th, 3.89) and strikeouts (9th). Buehrle also lasted at least 6.0 IP in each of his last 28 starts. Buehrle reached 220 innings and 100 strike outs for the fourth consecutive season and finished strong with three complete games in his last five starts. On July 21 in Cleveland he faced the minimum 27 batters in a two-hit shutout of the Indians.
In September of 2004 Buehrle turned his sights on the Minnesota Twins and their World Series hopes. The Twins had just won the AL Central again and Buehrle was one of the first to rain on their parade.
"You have Santana and Radke, and you've got a chance,but then you look at the rest of their roster and you really can't see them getting past the first round. Anything can happen, but I don't see it," Buehrle told the suburban Chicago Daily Southtown.
Buehrle later carried his comments and even offered the Twins a chance to prove him wrong.
"If it comes down to it, give me any number I need to call and if they get past the first round, I'll call and apologize to everyone I need to... I'll call Minnesota, I'll call some radio station and apologize. If they lose in the first round, although it wasn't a big deal what I said, then they need to say something to me." (September 21, 2004)
"You gotta like Mark Buehrle, and not just because of his 10-1 record and 2.42 ERA. This is a guy who proposed to his fiancee ... on a hunting trip. "A lot of people said, 'Man, you're a redneck for proposing in a tree stand,'" said Buehrle. That's harsh, but you do have to wonder where they're registered." - Dan George (July 6, 2005; cnnsi.com)
After a sparkling first half of 2005 (10-3, 2.58 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), Buehrle was selected to the American League All-Star Team. With an injury to Roy Halladay taking him out of the starter's role, it was Buehrle who started for the AL in the Midsummer Classic. He threw two innings in Detroit allowing no runs and striking out 3 batters including triple crown candidate Derrek Lee, and likely future hall-of-famers Mike Piazza and Jeff Kent. Buehrle was the pitcher of record when the AL scored in the second inning, a lead they would hold to give the Sox pitcher his first All-Star win.
Buehrle had his streak of 49 consecutive starts of 6 or more innings halted on August 1 after he was ejected for hitting Orioles outfielder BJ Surhoff in retaliation for the Orioles' recent beanings of White Sox hitters.
Buehrle was a member of the Chicago White Sox team that won the 2005 World Series. During that playoff run, Buehrle pitched all nine innings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Game 2 of the ALCS, starting what was to become an incredible streak (particularly in today's baseball) of four consecutive complete games for White Sox starters.
Buehrle is also known as one of the game's most fun-loving pitchers. On more than one occasion he has entertained fans during rain delays by sliding along the wet tarp, a move that has drawn criticism from manager Ozzie GuillĂ©n for exposing his star pitcher to potential injury. He finally agreed to end the practice after a warning from general manager Ken Williams early in the 2006 season.
Buehrle is currently in the final stage of a three-year, $18 million deal. The White Sox have him under control in 2007, with a $9.5 million club option they are very likely to exercise.