Reds: Tejay Antone’s gut-wrenching injury defines 2021 season

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 22: Tejay Antone #70 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a pitch. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 22: Tejay Antone #70 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a pitch. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

It’s a shame, but Tejay Antone‘s 2021 season will likely be remembered more for the gut-wrenching injury that the right-hander suffered rather than the stellar performance he put forth prior to his second Tommy John surgery. Let’s review Antone’s 2021 season with the Cincinnati Reds.

Antone was in the mix to be part of the Reds starting rotation before the 2021 season began, but the 27-year-old missed some time during spring training with a mild injury and was forced to begin the season out of the bullpen.

From the jump, Antone was the most reliable pitcher out of the pen. The Texas native gave Cincinnati skipper, David Bell, multiple innings of relief and dominated opponents. During his first eight outings of 2021, Antone allowed just one earned run and struck out 20 batters over 14 innings of work. His performance earned Antone the nickname, Captain Hook.

Tejay Antone was the Reds best reliever in 2021.

Despite appearing in just 23 games, Tejay Antone’s 2.1 WAR ranked ninth on the team and fifth among Reds’ pitchers. Antone owned a 2.14 ERA, and had he not landed on the IL in June, there’s an outside chance that he would’ve made the National League All-Star team.

Prior to his injury in June, Antone struck out 42 batters over 33.2 innings, posting a 1.87 ERA, 11.23 K/9, and 33.1% strikeout-rate. While Antone exceeded rookie status last season, let’s not forget that he only played 13 games in 2020. What we saw from Antone in 2021 was quite remarkable.

The righty ended up on the injured list in early-June with inflammation in his forearm. Antone then returned for two games, only to end up on the IL once more with a forearm strain. This would keep Antone out of action for the better part of a month.

Tejay Antone took on a rehab assignment and was all-systems-go for a crucial three-game set in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, that’s when Antone’s season unraveled. Antone took the hill with the Reds trailing the Brewers 5-4 in the eighth inning.

Antone, battling Milwaukee’s Rowdy Tellez, winced and grabbed his arm after delivering a curveball. The medical team escorted Antone to the clubhouse and the reliever was replaced by Luis Cessa. A few days later it was revealed that Antone would have to undergo Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career.

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It’s certainly not the way Tejay Antone hoped to end his season, but as he said via Twitter, “Life is bigger than one person’s career.” Reds Country can forget about seeing Antone in 2022, but hopefully Captain Hook will be back in action for the Redlegs in 2023. Here’s wishing Antone a speedy recovery, and the ace of the Cincinnati bullpen receives a B+ for his performance in 2021.