Rangers right-hander Matt Bush is not going to make it back to the MLB roster this season, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Elbow issues forced him to the disabled list in the middle of June.
Though Bush is said to be working through a throwing progression, he says that there simply won’t be time for him to ramp up fully during the month of September. It certainly doesn’t help that he wouldn’t be able to utilize the club’s minor-league affiliates for rehab work.
Most of all, the Rangers likely see little reason to push it in the midst of a cellar-dwelling campaign. Things have gone about as well for the 32-year-old Bush as they have for the rest of the roster. He carries only a 4.70 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9 in 23 innings.
Needless to say, that’s a disappointing set of results for the 2004 first overall pick, though his story remains fascinating. Bush had derailed his career with off-field choices, but remarkably reached the majors with the Texas club in 2016.
From an on-field perspective, though, there’s now reason for the Rangers to wonder what contribution they’ll receive from Bush in 2019. He was outstanding in his first MLB campaign, turning in 61 2/3 innings of 2.48 ERA pitching. Despite some downturns in his output in the following season, Bush still showed many of the same skills (12.3% swinging-strike rate, 97.9 mph average fastball). In his limited action in 2018, Bush lost a tick on his heater, saw his swinging-strike rate drop to 9.4%, and gave up a whopping 52.1% hard contact rate.
From the organization’s perspective, the silver lining of this lost campaign is what it means for Bush’s cost. He’ll enter the offseason with 2.143 years of service. We don’t yet know where the Super Two line will land, but Bush would be a likely candidate to exceed it based upon recent outcomes. Despite his 2016-17 output, this meager platform season will likely lead to quite a manageable arbitration salary, which not only ought to make Bush a cheap player to keep in 2019 but will also make for a lower salary floor to build off of in future seasons.
Of course, the Texas club would surely rather have paid up for a version of Bush that looked like a healthy, high-quality, high-leverage relief pitcher. Whether he can return to that form remains to be seen, thus adding another question mark to the Rangers’ pitching staff as the offseason approaches.