We all knew that it was likely that Tejay Antone would be activated today prior to beginning the series with the first place Milwaukee Brewers. Last week we heard manager David Bell suggest as much as long as his final appearance in Louisville while on rehab on Sunday went as expected. It was the other move that may have been a bit of a surprise: The Cincinnati Reds designated left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle for assignment to make room on the 26-man roster for Antone.
If Tejay Antone can return to form, or anything close to it, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen just got massively better. Antone had a 1.87 ERA in 33.2 innings and had allowed just 17 hits before he went on the injured list in late June. It’s been two months since he pitched on a big league mound, though. While on his rehab with Louisville he pitched in seven games and allowed two runs in 6.2 innings with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
As for Sean Doolittle – it’s been a very hit-and-miss season for the lefty. For the season he had a 4.46 ERA in 45 games, but that doesn’t come close to telling the entire story. He had also allowed 12 of the 19 inherited runners to score against him.
With that said, over the last two months he had pitched in 15 games and allowed runs in just two of them that went onto his record. He had also only allowed 1 of 6 inherited runners to score in that stretch.
The move to designated Doolittle for assignment probably came down to a choice between three options. The first would be to just option Tony Santillan, who was the only player in the bullpen on the active roster who had options. It’s a tough sell to suggest that Santillan isn’t one of the best nine relievers on the 40-man roster, though, and if you’re competing for a playoff spot on August 24th that isn’t a move you generally want to make.
The other move was to choose between the left-handed pitchers in the bullpen who have all had their struggles this season. Doolittle, Amir Garrett, and newcomer Justin Wilson. The big difference between Doolittle and the other two is that he’s a free agent at the end of the season, while the Reds could keep both Garrett and Wilson for the 2022 campaign if they would like to. There could be a lot more to the decision than that, and there likely was, but that probably played into the decision.