The past eight seasons, Mark Buehrle has been guaranteed to pitch 200 innings and win in double digits. That marks him as one of the most durable pitchers around. But from a fantasy standpoint, Buehrle is not on anyone’s list of must-have hurlers.
While Buehrle has been extremely durable, he has also managed to be aggravatingly inconsistent in fantasy categories. Should owners expect 10 wins or 19? Should they count on 98 strikeouts or 165? Will his ERA be closer to 3.12 or 4.99? Will the WHIP be 1.07 or 1.45? Usually these drastic swings only occur in pitchers who had injury problems or suffered one off year or enjoyed a career season. Buehrle had career highs and lows in six different seasons over the past eight campaigns.
By contrast, Barry Zito had three of his career highs in 2002 and all four of his career lows in 2008.
Perhaps due to these wild fluctuations, the projection systems all see Buehrle failing to match his 2008 season, which was his best since 2005. They all come up with him having fewer wins and strikeouts and a higher ERA. Only his WHIP do they see as being stable, and as he finished 50th in that category among qualified pitchers last year, it is not anything really to get excited about.
Mock drafters also are confused with what to make of Buehrle. A mock I participated in today he went undrafted. I have also seen him go as high as the 17th round.
Buehrle makes a fine fifth or sixth starter for a mixed league staff. He is a good late pick because he does have upside. It is certainly possible that he turns in a season like he did in 2002 or 2005 or 2008 and becomes a valuable member of a championship pitching staff. Just don’t gamble on him being your fourth starter.