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Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle struggles again; 2013 ERA rises to 7.02

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Mark Buehrle (USATSI)
The AL East has not been kind to Mr. Buehrle so far. (USATSI)

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Instead of becoming a reliable mid-rotation arm for the Blue Jays, Mark Buehrle is pitching exactly how you would expect a soft-tossing finesse pitcher to pitch in the AL East. After allowing seven runs in six innings to the Rays on Monday night, the veteran left-hander's season ERA sits at 7.02. His WHIP is 1.56.

Buehrle, who averages 84.4 mph with his fastball, according to PitchFX, came into the season with a career 3.82 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. In the five current AL East parks, it's a still-solid 4.20 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Since the start of 2009 though, it's a 5.26 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in the five AL East parks. The older Buehrle's gotten -- he turned 34 in March -- the less kind baseball's toughest division has been.

The Blue Jays took a big risk by acquiring Buehrle from the Marlins this winter, and so far the worst-case scenario has played out. He's a much better pitcher than his current pitching line would lead you to believe, but how much better? Expecting him to revert to his sub-4.00 ERA, 210+ innings ways with the White Sox is probably unrealistic at this point.

Unfortunately, that's the version of Buehrle the Blue Jays need if they want to dig themselves out of this early season hole and make some noise in the division. The southpaw wasn't a throw-in in that trade, Toronto didn't take him on as a way of getting Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. He was supposed to be a stablizer. So far he's been anything but.

Buehrle is under contract through 2015, and Toronto will pay him $11 million this year and $37 million total from 2014-15. He'll be their highest-paid player next season.

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