Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle continues to defy the expectations. At age-35, Buehrle is experiencing the best start of his career. Through eight starts, Buehrle is 7-1, with a miniscule 2.04 ERA. He's been a major asset to Fantasy owners who picked him up early in the year. While the strong start has been nice, regression is coming. Owners who are currently capitalizing on Buehrle's strong start would be wise to put him on the block soon.
How many players experience a career-year at age-35? Buehrle is no different. While he's often been a useful Fantasy asset over his career, Buehrle has never been an elite performer. He'll give a team solid innings, and even post decent ERAs, but Buehrle rarely strikes out hitters at an acceptable rate. That same skill set is present this year, so how is Buehrle defying the odds?
Luck with the long ball has played the biggest role. Through 53 innings, Buehrle has allowed just one home run this season. His home run per fly ball rate sits at 1.9 percent, much lower than his 9.8 career-average. Over his career, Buehrle gives up about 25 home runs per season. His current rate is not sustainable.
The other area where he's excelled, though not nearly as much, has been with stranded runners. Buehrle's currently stranding 81.1 percent of base runners. His career-average is 72.7 percent. That's not an extreme difference, but it is another area where he could see his performance slip.
Since he doesn't record a bunch of strikeouts, both factors are playing a huge role in his value. Think about the role Buehrle played in Fantasy leagues during his prime years. He made for a useful late round pick, but never emerged as anything more due to his limitations. There's no reason he should be valued higher than that now, especially considering his age. Once he starts to give up home runs, and his ERA creeps back to the high-3.00s or low-4.00s, how much value is he really going to provide? Fantasy owners will basically be relying on him for wins, which is always a risky proposition.
There's a chance your opponents are well aware of these issues, and current owners may have to ride out Buehrle's current hot streak. But if you can convince rival owners that this breakout is legit, Buehrle should be able to provide a decent return. As usual, you should try to target struggling players with upside when selling high on a breakout performer. There's little reason to think Buehrle's current surge will last. Sell him if you can.