The Brewers made an addition to their bullpen depth from the team they’re currently facing, as the club claimed reliever J.B. Bukauskas off waivers from the Mariners on Tuesday.
Mariners roster move: RHP JB Bukauskas has been claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.— Mariners PR (@MarinersPR) April 18, 2023
The 26-year-old was the 17th overall pick by the Houston Astros in the 2017 draft. He went to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the 2019 Zack Greinke trade and made his big-league debut in the desert in 2021.
After struggling to a 7.79 ERA and 5.77 FIP in 17 1⁄3 innings that year, Bukauskas saw most of his 2022 season wiped out due to teres muscle tear. The Mariners claimed him off waivers in the offseason, and he made his return to the big leagues last week, allowing two runs in an inning of work.
Seattle optioned Bukauskas the following day and designated him for assignment last Friday.
Bukauskas’ best pitch has always been his changeup, which earned a 70 grade in his FanGraphs prospect report. According to Statcast, it has averaged an excellent 35 inches of drop during his time in the big leagues. Despite it being his best offering, he only used it 11% of the time as a rookie.
The other pitches in Bukauskas’ arsenal—his fastball and slider—have been more suspect. In particular, opponents hit .500 with a .572 wOBA against his four-seamer in 2021. It has always had more natural sink and run than ride, which are not ideal qualities for a four-seamer.
After recovering from his injury last season, Bukauskas made the switch from a four-seamer to a true sinker in the minor leagues. The new sinker may prove to be a more productive pitch than his four-seamer was.
Additionally, Bukauskas has added depth to his mid-80s slider this year.
Bukauskas is still young, and it appears his arsenal is starting to come together. If he continues developing, he could work his way into some important innings as a member of the bullpen. The Brewers optioned him to Triple-A, so he will continue working things out in the minor leagues for now.
To clear a space on the 40-man roster, the Brewers transferred Luis Urias to the 60-day IL. Urias was already slated to miss six-to-eight weeks after straining his hamstring on Opening Day, so this does not change his recovery timeline.