What to Expect From TJ Zeuch

The Blue Jays plan to bring on RHP TJ Zeuch to make his MLB debut tonight after Opener Wilmer Font has gotten through the heart of the Atlanta batting order.

The 2016 1st rounder has been brought along methodically through the system, partially due to injury concerns, and partly to refine his mechanics and his secondary pitches.

At 6’7″, Zeuch has the ideal build for a sinker ball Pitcher, which is the pitch that generates most of his outs.  Zeuch gets great extension and a solid downward plane on his two seamer which can be difficult to square up, as evidenced by his no-hitter three starts ago, and his 57% GB rate.  He held his velocity in that start, hitting 94 in the 9th inning.

The opposite side of that coin is that because Zeuch is around the plate so much, he tends to pitch to contact – his 54.&% pull rate would have been highest among International League Pitchers if he’d had enough innings to qualify.

Fangraphs evaluation of Zeuch from the spring:

Zeuch doesn’t have dominant stuff but he’s a keen sequencer with a firm grasp on how best to deploy his pitches to efficiently tally outs. He mostly pitches to contact with a low-90s sinker that has very steep downhill plane thanks to Zeuch’s height and fairly upright delivery. It’s helped him generate ground ball rates near 60% as a pro. Both of his breaking balls survive because Zeuch locates them. He’ll get ahead of hitters with his curveball and keep his slider just off the plate away from righties.

Zeuch works quickly, and while he tends to give up contact, is able to avoid a high HR rate.  This is a good spot for the Blue Jays to work him in – on the road, and (hopefully) he’ll get to face the bottom of the Braves order before the big bats come up.

Don’t expect a repeat no-hit performance, but do expect a guy who will be around the strike zone, give the team some innings, and eventually fill an important role at the back end of the rotation.

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