3:55pm: Bush will be shut down for two to four weeks, per Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
3:04pm: The Brewers announced a series of roster moves Monday, all pertaining to the bullpen. Right-hander Javy Guerra has been designated for assignment, with his spot on the 40-man roster going to veteran lefty Alex Claudio, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Nashville. Milwaukee also placed righty Matt Bush on the 15-day IL with tendinitis in his right rotator cuff and recalled right-hander Jake Cousins from Nashville.
Guerra, 27, was once one of the top prospects in baseball when he was a shortstop, but he converted to the mound several years ago and has been trying to establish himself as a flamethrowing reliever. He’s seen MLB time with the Padres, Rays and Brewers but has yet to find much consistency. So far in 8 1/3 innings with the Brewers, who acquired him from the Rays in exchange for a PTBNL (Victor Castaneda) back in November, he’s tossed 8 1/3 innings but allowed eight runs on 10 hits, nine walks and a pair of hit batters.
Guerra has averaged a blazing 98.4 mph on his heater this year and 98.1 mph overall in parts of five big league seasons on the mound, but command has regularly been an issue. Overall, he’s tallied 52 innings of relief work between those three previously mentioned clubs and walked nearly as many batters (12.1%) as he’s struck out (14.5%). The Brewers will have a week to trade him or attempt to pass the out-of-options righty through waivers.
Bush’s injury comes on the heels of some pronounced struggles for the 37-year-old this year. He’s pitched 7 2/3 innings but been tagged for seven runs on six hits and six walks with eight strikeouts. It’s a small sample, but that’s a 17.1% walk rate through his first nine appearances, which is nearly 10 percentage points higher than the combined 7.7% mark he posted from 2016-22. Add in that Bush’s average fastball is down from 97.4 mph in 2022 to 94.8 mph in 2023, and there are a few pretty glaring signs that he perhaps has not been pitching at full strength. The Brewers have not yet provided a potential timetable for his return.
Claudio, 31, is a familiar face for Brewers fans, having spent the 2019-20 seasons pitching in the Milwaukee bullpen. He returned on a minor league contract over the winter and has gotten out to a nice start in Nashville, allowing a pair of runs with a 5-to-2 K/BB ratio and a mammoth 73.3% ground-ball rate in his six innings of work so far.
Hearty ground-ball rates are nothing new for Claudio, who’s posted a career 59.8% mark over the life of 347 2/3 innings at the big league level. He struggled upon departing the Brewers organization, pitching to a 5.51 ERA in 32 2/3 innings with the 2021 Angels, but Claudio’s broader body of MLB work is solid: 3.60 ERA (3.83 FIP, 3.67 SIERA), 17% strikeout rate, 6.5% walk rate, 59.8% grounder rate, 14 saves, 51 holds. He does have emphatic platoon splits, however, which makes the three-batter minimum a particularly disadvantageous rule change for Claudio.
Cousins, 28, has given up five runs in 4 1/3 innings with Nashville so far, though virtually all of the damage against him came in one outing. What’s surely of greater intrigue to the organization is that he’s punched out 11 of the 24 batters he’s faced so far (45.8%).
Cousins has just 43 1/3 innings of big league work under his belt to this point in his career, but he’s averaged 95.9 mph with his sinker, 95.3 mph with his four-seamer and notched a massive 17% swinging-strike rate. His 14.7% walk rate and six plunked batters (out of 184 faced) show command that needs some serious refinement, but Cousins has the stuff to miss bats in droves. If he can throw more strikes, as he’d done so far in Triple-A (two walks in 24 batters faced), he has the potential to become a legitimate high-leverage arm. That’s far easier said than done, of course, but it’s easy to see why the Brewers continue to be intrigued by Cousins.
Not sure why he was given a spot out of spring anyway. Dude has to work on command to stick in the majors. Not good enough
deGrom Texas Ranger
I’d love to see either Claudio or Bush back with Texas. Those guys are better than Hearn/Sborz/King.
Was he that homer prone in Texas too? Seems like a head-case. Has a few decent outings, then loses it and gives up bombs. Same last summer post-trade.
deGrom Texas Ranger
He was homer-prone, but not that much. I always remember his ERA being too high for such a high K/BB pitcher, but even that’s no longer the case for him.
Bush isn’t. He was bad at the end of last year for the Crew and worse starting this year.
I said the exact same 2nd sentence in 2019. Who knows, but he may just get one more chance somewhere!
Guerra was never a top prospect in the game lol he was always a shortstop who couldn’t hit
I know ERA is so “old school”, but a lifetime 6.92 ERA? Really?
Just place the ball on a T and let the hitters swing away. Might have a better shot at an out (with a ..295 BA besides….no walks at least!)
Back to the Rays!
The only reason I want to see Matt Bush back on the mound is to see him hit by a line drive. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
I will never forget the numerous stories about him going after teenagers with a golf club or nearly killing and horribly disabling a motorcyclist. The dude might be controlling his alcoholism, but that is his character and will be for the rest of his life. He was, is and always will be a user. He’s “Matt F***ing Bush*” after all.
*That’s how he introduced himself to a person he was assaulting.
**It isn’t just him, he had family members doing the same type of stuff, it’s not like it was a sporadic incident.