Cincinnati Reds: Tejay Antone should make his first start in doubleheader

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tejay Antone #70 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tejay Antone #70 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Tejay Antone was brilliant in his Reds debut.

There shouldn’t be an ounce of hesitation in David Bell’s mind this afternoon. Tejay Antone should get the ball in Game 2 of the Cincinnati Reds doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. Antone was painting the corners during his big league debut last week and it’s time to see what the Reds organization has in their young hurler.

The Reds have already shaken up their rotation this season. Two games have been postponed due to inclement weather, resulting in Bell already shuffling things around. In an effort to keep Sonny Gray on his normal schedule, the Reds ace will get the ball tomorrow against the Cleveland Indians.

Trevor Bauer’s second start of the year was pushed back to yesterday following Thursday’s postponement versus the Chicago Cubs. Bauer did not take too kindly to MLB’s cancellation of yesterday’s game at the last minute. The Cincinnati right-hander let his frustrations be known via Twitter.

The Reds have plugged in Tyler Mahle to start Tuesday contest against Shane Bieber of the Indians. Given Bieber’s dominance this season, and the Reds need for a series win against Cleveland, I’d look for Bauer to get the ball Tuesday night.

Still, that leaves the Cincinnati Reds with a conundrum of who starts Game 2 this evening against the Detroit Tigers. Luis Castillo pitched Friday evening, so he’s out and will likely face Mike Clevinger on Wednesday. Anthony DeSclafani makes his 2020 debut this afternoon, so he won’t make an appearance. Left-hander Wade Miley just hit the injured list, so he’s unable to go either.

Enter Tejay Antone, the hero of last Monday’s rally versus the Chicago Cubs that fell just one run short. After Miley got off to a disastrous start in a Reds uniform, Antone stepped in, picked up the pieces and looked the part of a big league starter.

Antone toed the rubber in the top of the second inning, and after hitting the first batter he faced, settled in to a masterful performance. The right-hander went 4.1 innings, allowed just one hit, one run and struck out six Cubs batters. Antone’s stuff was electric; easily hitting the mid-90s on the radar gun while working all sides of the plate.

The former fifth-round draft pick came in relief during that game, but Antone has the stuff to be a starter. In a shortened-season, every game counts. While turning to a rookie may seem like an odd choice, it’s the right one, and Cincinnati has several arms available in the bullpen in the event that Antone gets rocked.

Lucas Sims, who made his presence felt in a similar situation last season, hasn’t pitched since Wednesday against the Cubs. Sims has been virtually flawless this season, allowing just one hit, and should be on stand-by in the event Antone struggles early.

The aforementioned Tyler Mahle is another option the Reds could deploy if Antone struggles. Mahle filled in for starter Anthony DeSclafani last Tuesday, but hasn’t made a start since. Though he’s slated to start this coming Tuesday against the Indians, it’s easy to see Trevor Bauer picking up that start after Saturday’s game was rained out.

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Tejay Antone has the stuff. Ranked No. 20 in the Cincinnati Reds farm system according to MLB Pipeline, Antone works the ball down in the zone, an improving slider and a solid changeup. It’s quite possible that Antone will be in the mix for a starting spot in 2021; it’s time to see if he’s got what it takes.