The Blueprint for Matt Bush | The Process Report

The Blueprint for Matt Bush

Tommy covered Matt Bush being added to the 40-man roster yesterday. The move is curious looking in from the outside given Bush’s inexperience as a pitcher. To date he’s at 21.1 innings pitched, with a third of those taking place back in 2007 and none of them coming above A-ball. Thinking Bush could jump to the majors immediately and pitch well out of the bullpen seems unusual, but there is a precedent for such an occurrence and it happened earlier this year.

I doubted Sergio Santos opening the season in the White Sox bullpen and boy was I wrong. Santos threw 51 innings, striking out 56, walking 23 unintentionally, and posting a 3.10 FIP with well above average whiff rates. Santos and Bush share more in common than they don’t. Both were former first round picks at shortstop who converted to the mound around their mid-20s. Santos pitched in the minors during the 2009 season only, logging 28 innings while fanning 30 and walking 20. The stuff was good, but the results hardly guaranteed success.

A mid-to-upper 90s fastball along with a slider/change combination made up Santos’ arsenal. It’s impossible to compare Santos’ and Bush’s stuff outside of velocity – and even then, who knows exactly what Bush would average over a full season – but both had strong arm reputations at short, meaning the real question is about command and movement rather than velocity.

Bush is unlikely to pitch well enough to earn a legitimate sub-3 earned run average. Breaking camp in a retooled Rays’ bullpen and pitching at or better than league average rates, though, is not out of the possibility. Who knows, Bush might not even be the best rehabbing righty reliever who makes an appearance for the Rays, as Ricky Orta is still floating around.

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