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Rounding Third: Buehrle still the model of consistency

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Given who he is, Albert Pujols' resurgence has been the early story in baseball this season.

But there's something going on north of the border that may be even more impressive than what the former three-time National League MVP is doing out west.

Toronto left-hander Mark Buehrle has matched the best start of his 15-year career and been nothing short of spectacular in winning his first four starts, while surrendering just two runs in 28 innings of work (0.64 ERA).

"I haven't changed anything in 10 or 11 years," Buehrle said. "I'm not going to keep asking questions. I'm going to go out there and run with it and see what happens."

Buehrle takes the hill again on Friday trying to become the first Blue Jays pitcher ever to start his season with five straight wins.

"He's just locked in right now," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He even admitted in spring training he hadn't felt this good in a long time, but he competes, he's a great competitor. One thing about Buehrle is he pitches to win, he doesn't pitch for stats. You get guys in this game who pitch for stats. He pitches to win, and you need more guys like that."

So why has he been so successful this season? Well, partly it's due to luck.

As TSN fantasy writer Tom Harrigan pointed out, batters have gone 3-for-38 (.079) against him with runners on base and he has held the opposition to a batting average on balls in play to .107.

That likely won't continue. But then again, who would have thought the St. Louis Cardinals would have maintained an amazing .330 average last season with runners in scoring position?

While Pujols' career looked over the last few years, it's probably unfair to call what the 35-year-old Buehrle is doing a resurgence considering his numbers have somewhat resembled the pitcher who was a four-time All-Star with the Chicago White Sox.

Buehrle was never a pitcher who would put up eye-popping numbers like a Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander. He never led the league in wins and his ERA was never below 3.00 and rarely higher than 4.00.

What he has been, though, is the model of consistency.

Few pitchers have won more than Buehrle since he broke into the league with the White Sox back in 2000, as he's recorded double-digit win seasons in each of the last 13 years and has topped 200 innings in all of those years. In addition, he has a pair of no-hitters, including a perfect game, under his belt.

Still, nobody could have seen this coming. He hasn't just been consistent, he's been downright dominant.

Last year at this time, Buehrle, like the rest of his Blue Jays, was in the midst of an awful start. Oddly enough, he took the ball for Toronto in New York on April 25 a year ago and was roughed up to the tune of five runs in 5 1/3 innings to raise his ERA to 6.35.

His ERA actually rose to as high as 7.02 two starts later before he started to turn it around. In fact, from that point on, he pitched to a 3.43 ERA and ended his season at 4.15.

It's probably unfair to think that Buehrle is going to keep this pace up. Likely, he'll probably end up finishing with between 12-15 wins with an ERA hovering around 3.50.

The same as it's been his entire career.

04/25 11:14:23 ET