Every team has its stars: Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Johan Santana., the list goes on.
Every baseball fan knows these guys, and every baseball fan knows all about their individual exploits.
Then there are guys who fly a little bit under the radar, guys who are known only by those who routinely watch them play. Guys like Dave Bush, a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, who has been a personal favorite of mine for most of his stint in the Cream City.
Traded for the beloved Lyle Overbay before 2006 to make room at first base for young phenom Prince Fielder, Bush joined the rotation to little fanfare. He is another back-of-the-rotation guy, much like Jeff Suppan.
My opinion of Bush started to turn after watching him pitch a five-hit shutout to the Houston Astros in September of 2006, a game that, from my seat in Miller Park, seemed to end before it even got started (it took Bush only 2:13 to beat the Astros).
Two other games that really stood out for me during Bush's years with the Brewers are his two no-hit bids, both of which he carried into the eighth inning. One was in 2008 (against his former Toronto club and broken up, ironically enough, by Overbay), and the other came earlier this year in Philadelphia.
Armed with an average fastball, a sneaky cutter, and a slow, looping curve ball that occasionally makes hitters look foolish, Bush doesn't possess that electric stuff that most ace pitchers have (think Ben Sheets, Josh Beckett, and Tim Lincecum), but he knows how to get guys out, and he knows how to stay on the mound (don't think Sheets or Beckett).
In each of his Brewer seasons, Bush has started at least 29 games and pitched at least 185 innings. He's compiled a 36-32 record and a 4.51 ERA as a Brewer, which certainly aren't Cy Young Award-type numbers, but he's been much better than expected for the Brewers, especially this season.
Of his nine starts so far, seven have been quality starts, and one other would have been, had he gotten some bullpen support. His 2009 ERA is at 3.92 and is 3-1 so far.
Sure, he has a tendency to give up home runs and hits in bunches, but those haven't happened yet this year. It's only a matter of time before more people (and by "more people," I mean at least one other person aside from myself) start realizing that the Brewers already have a pretty decent number two starter to back up young Yovani Gallardo in this starting rotation which has exceeded every expectation (Manny Parra aside) so far in 2009.