Reds reliever Tejay Antone announced on Thursday that he is going to have season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Not how I imagined my season ending. I will be undergoing my second Tommy John surgery tomorrow. I have full trust in Dr. Kremchek and his team to get me back even better this time. Life is bigger than one person’s career. My hope through this whole thing is to inspire others.— Tejay Antone ⚾ (@TejayAntone) August 26, 2021
The 27-year-old right-hander has been one of the Reds' best relievers this season, when he's been healthy. In 23 appearances, Antone has a 2.14 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 42 strikeouts against 13 walks in 33 2/3 innings. On Tuesday he made his first appearance in two months after an IL stint and he wasn't quite himself. It was pretty clear something was off and now we have our confirmation.
This procedure and the ensuing rehab likely puts Antone out through the 2022 season, but in the near term, it's worth pointing out the Reds' bullpen impact.
The Reds enter Thursday with a one-game lead over the Padres for the second NL wild card spot. The Cardinals are 3 1/2 back and the Phillies are five back. This is going to be a race. A race that Antone was set to have an impact on, because the Reds really need the bullpen help, as illustrated the past two days.
The Reds went to Milwaukee having won six of their last nine games. They lost Tuesday after the bullpen allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings. Wednesday, the bullpen gave up two runs (one earned) in 1 2/3 innings.
It's been an issue all season. Reds' relievers have a collective 5.27 ERA this season. Even with all kinds of turnover with different personnel, it's been pretty consistently bad. The bullpen ERA was 5.99 in June, improved to 4.69 in July and is back in the 5's (5.10) in August.
Antone joins Brad Brach on the injured list. The Reds have cut bait on Sean Doolittle and Heath Hembree. The main late-inning relievers are now Mychal Givens, Michael Lorenzen and Luis Cessa in addition to the struggling Amir Garrett and Lucas Sims. Lefty Justin Wilson and righty Jeff Hoffman are in the mix as well.
In all, the Reds have used 27(!) relief pitchers this season. A standard bullpen these days generally have seven or eight relievers. If the Reds find a way to make the playoffs, given all the issues with the relief pitching, it'll be a minor miracle. The Antone news just compounds the situation.