Cincinnati Reds: Who should replace Amir Garrett as the closer?

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 02: Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 02: Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during a game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Tejay Antone #70 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the fifth inning.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – APRIL 17: Tejay Antone #70 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the fifth inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Tejay Antone, Reds right-handed pitcher

Yes, I’d much prefer to see Tejay Antone in the starting rotation, but there’s just not a spot for him right now. As the season moves along, that could easily change. While I know David Bell would prefer to use Antone in specific situations (multiple innings of relief with the Reds in the lead), perhaps Bell should try using Antone the team’s closer.

Is there any pitcher on the Cincinnati Reds staff that you feel more confident in than Tejay Antone? I didn’t think so. Until Tuesday night, Antone hadn’t allowed a run, and he’s allowed just four hits over 10.2 innings of work thus far in 2021.

https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1385036035260825603

Tejay Antone’s breaking ball; he uses a combination of curveball and slider, is virtually unhittable. “Captain Hook”, as he’s been dubbed by Rob Friedman (also known as Pitching Ninja), has gone to his curveball 30.6% of the time and his slider 29.9% of the time. According to Baseball Savant, Antone, who’s fastball can touch the upper-90s, is only throwing the heater 39.6% of the time.

The swings and misses that Antone has induced this season has the right-hander sitting in the Top 3% of the league with a strikeout-rate of 42.5%. Antone is also in the Top 5% when it comes to whiff-rate.

Yes, the longterm solution for Tejay Antone is the starting rotation. But with Luis Castillo, Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Mahle, and Sonny Gray all occupying the starting rotation, there’s really no room for last year’s rookie. Michael Lorenzen is also slated to compete for a spot in the rotation when he returns from injury.

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Using Antone as multiple-innings reliever is the correct usage of the Texas native right now. But what if Bell inserted Antone in the eighth inning and relied upon the right-hander to get a four, five, or even six-out save? Antone is the best pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, so why not use him in the most crucial stage of the game?