Smack dab in the middle of a stretch of 17 games in 17 days, the Brewers had a chance to kick off a road series against the Pirates with a win on Friday night. They were in a tough spot, however, as much of their bullpen was deemed unavailable due to their high usage in recent days.
Still, a win was easily within grasp. After staking themselves to a 7-3 lead through seven and a half innings, they watched as new roster addition Thomas Pannone ate up 2.1 valuable bullpen innings. And though he gave up a pair of runs, the Crew would ultimately head into the bottom of the ninth with a 7-5 lead.
Enter relief pitcher Matt Bush.
Still pretty fresh off the injured list, Bush didn't have very solid numbers coming into the game. But with so many relievers down, it was his game to lose. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened.
After going single, ground out to start the inning, ex-Brewers Andrew McCutchen would pull Pittsburgh within one with a booming double to left center. Bush would induce another ground out to get within one out of escaping with a win, but then Carlos Santana would crush a walkoff homer to right for the dramatic home victory, leaving Bush with yet another blown save.
After Friday's disappointing loss, it's officially time for the Brewers to part ways with reliever Matt Bush.
At the time, the Brewers' acquisition of Bush made total sense. With the 2022 MLB trade deadline quickly approaching, Milwaukee needed bullpen help and the 36-year-old was having a very good season for the Rangers, sporting a 2.95 ERA, a 1.009 WHIP, and .199 batting average against.
The Brewers pulled the trigger on the trade for Bush, sending over utility man Mark Mathias and pitching prospect Antoine Kelly. Sadly, like most of their deadline deals last year, things didn't work out in the Crew's favor.
Not all of Bush's numbers were bad for the Brewers after the deadline. He actually lowered his batting average against to .193, had a solid 1.043 WHIP, and struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings. But he also gave up six homers in 23 innings and blew four saves in 25 appearances to finish the season.
And unfortunately, 2023 has been even worse. After Friday's outing, Bush now has an 0-2 record, a 9.58 ERA, a 1.645 WHIP, and is allowing batters to hit .262 on the season. He has also given up five homers in just 10.1 innings.
At this point, there's no reason to continue with Bush being a part of the Brewers' bullpen. Not only has his performance gotten worse over time, but at $1.85MM, he's not even costing Milwaukee that much money, so there's no financial reason to stick with him either.
Bush was originally supposed to compete for high-leverage outings as a member of the Brewers bullpen. That area has been largely solidified, though, with the emergence of Elvis Peguero and Joel Payamps alongside star closer Devin Williams. So if Bush is no longer in the late inning equation, that's even less incentive to keep him around.
With the calendar flipping to July, long leashes become shorter or not existent at all as teams who are in playoff contention cut ties with players who aren't contributing in a positive way. The middle relief part of the Brewers' bullpen still needs to be stabilized and Bush is part of that problem. It's time to part ways.