The Reds announced today that right-hander T.J. Zeuch has been released. That comes as part of a series of transactions that also saw righty Justin Dunn reinstated from the injured list and right-hander Raynel Espinal optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Dunn had been on the Covid-related injured list, hence the need for a 40-man move to reinstate him to what had been an at-capacity roster.
The 27-year-old Zeuch has been on the injured list himself for the past three weeks due to a back issue. Players on the injured list cannot be placed on outright waivers, so the Reds’ options with Zeuch were to move him to the 60-day injured list for the remainder of the season or release him.
Zeuch began the season with the Cardinals organization but was designated for assignment and released in May. He caught on the Reds shortly thereafter and, after a solid run of five starts with the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, found himself selected to the big league roster in Cincinnati. He made three starts prior to landing on the injured list, but the results were brutal; in just 10 2/3 innings, Zeuch was tattooed for 18 runs on 24 hits and seven walks with as many home runs allowed as strikeouts recorded (five).
While Zeuch never found extensive big league experience in parts of six seasons with the Blue Jays organization, this year’s calamitous, small-sample 15.19 ERA is a marked departure from past levels of performance. In parts of three seasons with the Jays from 2019-21, the 2016 first-rounder posted a respectable 4.59 ERA in 49 frames, logging a strong 50.9% ground-ball rate but struggling in terms of strikeout rate (14.1%) and walk rate (10.9%).
In parts of three seasons of Triple-A ball, Zeuch has a 4.71 ERA in 216 innings, although that’s skewed by an awful showing with the Cardinals earlier this year. Take out that span of 19 1/3 innings (25 earned runs allowed), and he’s sitting at a 4.02 mark for his career at that level — right in line with his broader 3.99 ERA in a total of 484 2/3 minor league innings.
Zeuch doesn’t appear to be at 100 percent at the moment, and with such little time remaining in the regular season, today’s release could very well end his 2022 campaign. He’ll enter the offseason likely to land a minor league deal and compete for a job somewhere next spring.