Tejay Antone took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night against the Chicago Cubs. For Antone it’s a lifetime of work leading to a dream, but it didn’t come in the most ideal situation. When the right-handed pitcher stepped onto the mound his team was trailing 6-0 and it was just the 2nd inning.
The game for Tejay Antone started with a 96 MPH fastball for a called strike. The next pitch hit Willson Contreras in the elbow. He came back and got Steven Souza to fly out to Phillip Ervin in center field to record his first out and end the inning. In the 3rd inning Antone worked around a walk of Albert Almora and picked up the first strikeout of his big league career on a 97 MPH comeback fastball to David Bote.
In the 4th inning he had to work around a Freddy Galvis error, but took care of Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Willson Contreras. It was more of the same in the top of the 5th as Souza and Bote went down on strikes before a ground out to Joey Votto ended the inning. It was the 6th inning that finally saw the Cubs get to Antone as Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer with two outs before Javier Baez lined out to third.
David Bell went to the bullpen for the 7th, ending the night for Tejay Antone, who from a personal performance standpoint, couldn’t have asked for much better of a Major League debut. The 26-year-old allowed one run on one hit and one walk in 4.1 innings while striking out five batters. He would throw 69 pitches with 42 strikes and generate five ground outs with just two fly ball outs.
Here’s the breakdown of his pitches according to the Statcast data.
|Pitch||Avg MPH||Top MPH||Strikes||Balls||SwingK|
The velocity and movement on the fastball by Tejay Antone was impressive. At times he was throwing 97-98 MPH fastballs that had comeback action on them and leaving Cubs hitters standing there looking confused. The breaking ball, sans the one that Anthony Rizzo hit to the seats, wasn’t exactly being seen well by the Chicago hitters, either.
While Antone wasn’t on the roster when the season began, with how he looked in his debut, it might be tough to send him back to Prasco Park if he continues to perform the way that he did on Monday night.
Manager David Bell on Tejay Antone
“How about Antone and the way he pitched and kept us in the game? Unbelievable job his first time out, his Major League debut,” said Bell. “We lost the game, but it would be completely unfair without mentioning what an unbelievable job he did, and Tyler Stephenson in his Major League debut coming out and playing a huge part in almost pulling off a comeback win that we came up short on, and there’s no denying that. But these young players came up big tonight to give us the opportunity.”
“This guy has really stood out to us, to his teammates, to this coaching staff – just how motivated he is,” Bell said after the game of Antone. “Not only to get to the Major Leagues, but to become a great pitcher here. Obviously that was step one. Really what allowed it was all of the work he’s done. He’s a learned, extremely hard worker – he just continues to get better. Tonight we saw a great fastball, but he was able to throw his offspeed pitches – both of them for strikes and to get chases with them. Just confident, and you’d never know this was his first time in the Major Leagues.”
Tejay Antone on his Reds debut
“I saw the first inning was a couple of hiccups and the pitch count was getting up and so I just made myself ready and I stayed ready. Second inning didn’t go as planned for Wade, and I just made myself available. They called down there and said get ready – so I got after it as quick as possible. Adrenaline took over and I got ready a lot faster than I was expecting.”
“DJ (pitching coach Derek Johnson) asked me, I believe in the second inning that I had pitched – I guess when I was through one and a third – hey, how many pitches can you give us? I was like hey, I can go 100 – I went 100 pitches in quarantine and I’m ready to go,” said Antone. “I’ll be in whatever role this team needs me – short, long, starter, whatever – if anything is needed I’ll be ready to go”.
“The first inning, I hit the guy – my first batter – a little nervous right after that, I was like ‘oh gosh, here we go’. Got through that, and in the second inning I struck him out looking and I was like OK, it’s the same game, same distance – nothing changes. I kind of settled in after that was ready to go.”
This is why I had Antone in group #2 on my prospect list with Lodolo and Stephenson.
The man is a stud and should be a SP next summer (assuming we have baseball).
Impressive debut under less than ideal circumstances. Welcome to the bigs Tejay! This wasn’t a fluke – he had command of all three pitches against a lineup with at least five very good hitters at the top. Who knows what the long term holds, but Antone and Stephenson made the most of their opportunities. Here’s hoping there’s a lot more of that success for many many years. It feels like for years every Reds fill in looks like Colon or Davidson or take your pick of a hundred journeyman relievers, while the Cardinals call ups catch fire from day one. I know that’s a skewed perception, but it’s so encouraging that the Reds have had young in-house players with real potential the past two years. Senzel of course, but also Aquino, VanMeter, and now Antone and Stephenson with Garcia not far behind. A tip of the Reds cap for (two) fine debuts!
A few thoughts/points of discussion-
Tejay and Tyler S. looked great!
Is there some impact bat waiting in free agency we could pick up to DH? Seriously.
It really feels like the lineup just isn’t as deep as it needs to be- when you consider slow starts, the chance for future illness, and Bell’s proclivities to tinker. I like Phil Ervin, but he swings out of his shoes. JVM impressed me by stealing 2nd last night, eliminating the double-play ball- but leaning on the young guys for three or four at-bats every other day does not make for a solid core.
The guys are not looking settled in. Galvis looks like he swings with his eyes closed, and his fielding has been terrible. Meanwhile, Iglesias is like 7 for 12 with the Orioles, without the atrocious throws.
Antone looked amazing. Of course adrenaline and all that could be a factor so we’ll have to see how he looks a month from now when the thrill is gone, but for now WOW. The reactions of the hitters told the whole story.
Ok, so does Antone slide ahead of Mahle on the SP depth chart or does he profile better as a reliever? After what i saw you could make a solid argument his 2 pitch mix is closer worthy.
My only concern with Tejay is his swinging K%. A 5.8% swinging K% doesn’t work in the Majors. However, 33% of his pitches were taken for strikes. Maybe this is just a matter of hitters seeing a new pitcher and needing to make adjustments. Maybe as the 33% strike looking rate goes down the swinging k% will go up. i would love for 1/3 of his pitches to be continued to be taken for K’s though
Doug, we are seeing trends that were very frustrating last year.
After four games, the Reds have outscored their opponents by 2 runs, but are 1-3. The Brewers have been outscored by 5 runs, but are 2-2.
Yes, it is only four games this year. However, last year I recall the Reds having a record much worse than their Pythagorean expectation, and the Brewers having a record much better than their Pythagorean expectation.
Does this reflect on the manager for in-game strategy?
No, it doesn’t. It reflects the human brain trying to find patterns, much like how we see faces in things that aren’t faces.
I think it reflects that the Reds have developed an attitude as losers due to years of the front office making no attempt to put a winning team on the field. Losers lose. That is who they are. And the Reds just keep losing. Great pitching performances. Losses anyway.