While it would be unfair to say Dave Bush giving up four straight home runs on Wednesday night was expected, I can’t say it was terribly surprising.
Over his 7-year career, Bush has maintained a HR/FB ratio of 11.5%, but in four of his last five seasons that ratio has been over 12%. Entering last night’s start, it was 8.9%, which is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year in 2004.
Most of us had a feeling that Bush’s overall numbers were bound to regress. Despite striking out less batters and walking more, he was able to put up quality start after quality start because most of the flyballs he was giving up weren’t leaving the park. Was it possible he just found something this year that led to such a big turnaround in HR/FB? Sure. Was it likely? No.
So some regression was to be expected. Nobody could have predicted that he would give up home runs to four straight batters in the span of 10 pitches, though. Bush became the first pitcher since Chase Wright — coincidentally playing in the Brewers’ system now in Triple A — to give up four straight bombs, and he saw that HR/FB ratio skyrocket from 8.9% to 10.7%.
For whatever reason, whether it’s getting hit by that line drive last season or just a natural decline in ability, Bush’s stuff just isn’t what it used to be. As we saw last night, even when he can manage to keep the ball down in the zone, there’s a good chance he’s going to get hit hard.
Bush has been a pretty damn solid starter for the Brewers since coming over in the Lyle Overbay trade, but as a free agent after this season, his days in Milwaukee could be numbered. I thought this before last night’s game — after playing up to his salary the past few years, he’s about to get more expensive than he’s worth — but my feelings were re-affirmed last night.
It’s nothing against Bush (I still feel like he’d be a good #4 or #5 to have around), but next year the Brewers should have some cheaper options at some point that could probably perform at the same level.