If this is it, Buehrle limping to finish

CHICAGO -- In what may be his last month in a Chicago White Sox uniform, Mark Buehrle’s recent performance certainly hasn’t been up to the standard he’s set over the past dozen seasons.

As bad as his performance was on Friday night – seven earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in an 8-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians -- the real topic at hand after the game was whether Buehrle may be done at season’s end. Not just on the South Side, but with baseball in general.

“Once the World Series is over and negotiations start going, if it doesn’t work out, and I’m done, I’ll continue to work out and try not to get too fat,” Buehrle said with a smile. “Genetics aren’t working toward my way. I’m going to go home in the offseason like I’m playing next year, and if it happens, it happens. If not, I’ll be watching baseball come April next year.”

In his two starts in September, including Friday’s 8-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians, Buehrle has combined to give up 15 runs (14 earned) and 18 hits in nine innings pitched.

“I feel fine. I don’t feel worn out,” Buehrle said. “I feel like the first couple of innings, the velocity was down a little bit. I was taking time to get loose, but the last couple of innings I was throwing a little harder. I made a couple of mistakes, and I made some good pitches and they were getting hits. That’s baseball.”

Buehrle is arguably having his best season since the World Series season of 2005. Even with his subpar performance recently, Buehrle still has accrued 186 innings and a 3.58 ERA -- hardly numbers that indicate a pitcher on the verge of retirement.

However, Buehrle’s focus is not what next year holds, but bucking his recent downward trend and having a strong finish to this season.

“Just do what I can to pitch good in those three starts, and hopefully it’s better than what I’ve done these last couple,” Buehrle said. “I’m not figuring out what’s going to happen or where am I going. Am I coming back? Three more starts and then look forward to the offseason.”