This reliever will likely join Reds' bullpen after devastating Tejay Antone injury

The Reds have other options at Triple-A.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tejay Antone (70) delivers a pitch
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tejay Antone (70) delivers a pitch / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Reds fans will find out soon enough, but if Tejay Antone's reaction following an early-exit on Sunday is any indication, the right-hander could be in line to miss significant time. Antone entered the series finale against the New York Mets in relief of starter Andrew Abbott. Antone threw one pitch, grimaced while gripping his elbow, and left the field with the training staff. Antone will receive an MRI on Monday.

This is a devastating blow for the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, but also for Antone himself. The 30-year-old missed all of 2022 while rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery, then landed on the IL at the end of last year as well. Antone was all-systems-go this spring, but just over a week into the 2024 campaign, it would appear as though his season is now in jeopardy.

In all likelihood, Antone will be placed on the 15-day IL on Monday. That will result in the Reds' need for reinforcements. Cincinnati has a few options at Triple-A. Though many Reds fans would likely advocate for the team to call-up Tony Santillan, the Reds should recall Casey Legumina.

Tony Santillan is not the best option to replace injured Reds reliever Tejay Antone

This isn't about talent or performance; it's about roster construction. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to how Reds manager David Bell will deploy his starters this week, and Cincinnati will not want to muddy the waters by making several unnecessary transactions.

Nick Lodolo is scheduled to return to the Reds starting rotation later this week. Lodolo completed his second rehab outing on Sunday, worked less than three innings while allowing four runs on five hits and striking out two batters. That's not Lodolo's best line, but if he's healthy, it's likely that the left-hander will return to the Reds active roster on Friday.

That's already going to necessitate a roster move. Antone, Alexis Diaz, and Fernando Cruz are the only relievers on the Reds roster with minor-league options remaining. The Reds aren't going to send Diaz or Cruz to Triple-A, but Legumina could be Cincinnati's short-term option to fill in for Antone until Lodolo returns.

The Reds can then option Legumina back to Triple-A on Friday, recall Lodolo, and move Nick Martinez to the bullpen. If the Reds prefer to keep Martinez as a starter, Cincinnati could send Abbott back to the minors, but that seems unlikely.

Losing Antone will certainly hurt the Reds relief corps, but it's an even bigger blow to the team's morale. Antone is well liked by his teammates, the media, and almost everyone who's fortunate enough to cross paths with him. Hopefully Antone is able to recover and return to the mound sometime later this season.

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