As the Reds are in New York to start a three-game set with the Mets, right-hander T.J. Zeuch is with the team and expected to start Wednesday’s game, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Zeuch isn’t currently on the club’s 40-man roster, though the club currently has a vacancy there. Assuming they don’t add anyone between now and Wednesday, a corresponding move will only be required to add him to the active roster.
Zeuch, 27, is a former first-round pick, as the Blue Jays selected him 21st overall in 2016. He was considered one of the top 30 farmhands in Toronto’s system from 2017 to 2019 but failed to live up to his reputation in the big leagues. From 2019 to 2021, he threw 49 innings for the Jays, putting up a 4.59 ERA with substandard strikeout and walk rates of 14.1% and 10.9%, respectively, though he did get grounders at a decent 50.9% clip.
He was designated for assignment and then morphed from a bluebird into a redbird, getting traded to the Cardinals in exchange for cash considerations. He never got up to the big leagues with St. Louis, throwing 38 1/3 innings in Triple-A last year with a 4.93 ERA. This year, he got another 19 1/3 Triple-A innings but registered a ghastly 11.64 ERA in that time, getting designated for assignment and then released.
The Reds brought him aboard on a minor league deal, with Zeuch having showed improved results since. Cincy first sent him to the Arizona Complex League, letting him throw four scoreless innings over three starts there, before moving him up to Triple-A. In five starts there, he’s thrown 22 1/3 innings with a 3.63 ERA, 28.3% strikeout rate, 10.9% walk rate and 60% ground ball rate. Based on those improved results, he’ll get the call to return to the big leagues.
The Reds’ rotation had a few notable subtractions last week, as they traded both Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle prior to the deadline. Hunter Greene was also recently placed on the injured list due to a shoulder strain. That’s created the need for some extra arms next to Mike Minor, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft in the rotation. With the club well out of contention, they can use the rest of the season to evaluate some depth arms and see what they can bring to the table. Robert Dugger got to make a start on Friday, though he’s now been placed on the IL due to right shoulder pain, with Justin Dunn being recalled in a corresponding move.
Dunn, 26, has 25 MLB starts under his belt already, all coming with the Mariners. He registered a 3.94 ERA in 102 2/3 innings but poor rate stats, getting strikeouts 20.6% of the time, walks at a 15.5% clip and grounders at a 33.7% rate. His .205 BABIP in that time likely helped him produce an ERA better than he deserved, with all advanced metrics painting a less rosy picture.
He was acquired from the Mariners as part of the offseason trade that sent Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to Seattle. It was later reported that Dunn would be out for months due to shoulder troubles, though the Reds evidently knew this at the time of the trade. The righty has subsequently returned to health and has been pitching the minors. Through seven Triple-A starts this year, he has a 6.92 ERA, 17.8% strikeout rate, 12.4% walk rate and 36.9% ground ball rate. He and Zeuch will each make their Reds debuts and try to make their respective cases for sticking in the rotation this year and beyond.