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Brewers designate Matt Bush for assignment as part of bullpen shakeup

Bush’s unsuccessful Brewers tenure ended with a blown save on Friday night

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Seattle Mariners Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Both relievers who pitched in the Brewers’ walk-off loss against the Pirates on Friday night are no longer on the roster. Most notably, Matt Bush’s time in Milwaukee appears to be finished.

The club announced on Saturday that it had designated Bush and left-hander Thomas Pannone for assignment. It recalled right-hander J.B. Bukauskas and selected left-hander Clayton Andrews from Triple-A Nashville.

With his other five relievers unavailable due to heavy workloads on the current road trip, Craig Counsell had to turn to Pannone and Bush for relief behind Freddy Peralta last night.

Pannone held his own in his first big-league appearance since 2019, soaking up 2 23 innings to take a 7-5 lead to the ninth inning.

Because he is out of options and will be unavailable for the next several days, Pannone was ticketed to be removed from the roster regardless of his performance.

Bush received the save chance in the ninth and coughed up three runs while recording two outs. The game ended on a walk-off home run by Carlos Santana, the fifth that Bush allowed in 10 13 innings this year.

The Brewers acquired Bush from the Texas Rangers at last year’s trade deadline as part of a bullpen makeover.

The expectation was that Bush’s riding upper-90s fastball and plus curveball would make him a solid setup man for Devin Williams for multiple seasons.

Instead, inconsistent command and diminished velocity plagued Bush’s tenure with the team and led to alarming problems with the long ball. His walk rate increased to 12.5% this year, and his average fastball velocity fell from 97.3 to 94.4 mph.

In 37 appearances as a Brewer spanning 33 13 innings, Bush pitched to a 5.94 ERA and 6.46 FIP. He allowed 11 home runs.

Bush spent two months on the injured list with a rotator cuff injury. Despite showing no improvements to his command or velocity in a rehab stint with the Sounds, the Brewers took one more chance on his upside and returned him to the big-league roster.

Last night’s appearance was seemingly the final straw. The Brewers will now add a pair of new arms to their bullpen for Saturday’s game.

Bukauskas was previously recalled in May but never appeared in a game for the Brewers. He hit the injured list with a neck injury and was optioned when he returned to health.

Andrews, whom the Brewers selected in the 17th round of the 2018 amateur draft, will be making his big-league debut.

The Brewers experimented with developing Andrews as a two-way player, playing him in center field with the Carolina Mudcats and Biloxi Shuckers throughout the 2019 season in addition to deploying him as a reliever.

After an injury wiped out much of his 2021 season, he has since focused exclusively on pitching.

Andrews has thrown the ball well in Triple-A this year, posting a 1.65 ERA and 31.8% strikeout rate in 32 23 innings. He has added velocity to his fastball and now sits in the mid-90s with his heater. Andrews rounds out his arsenal with a slider and changeup.

The Brewers’ 40-man roster sits at 39 after today’s moves.