3:05 pm: Cincinnati has placed Antone on the 10-day injured list due to a right forearm strain. Infielder Max Schrock is up from Triple-A Louisville to take his active roster spot. Additionally, the Reds announced they’ve released reliever Michael Feliz. Feliz, who was designated for assignment on Monday, will be placed on waivers and will be free to sign elsewhere, assuming he passed through unclaimed.
9:33 am: The Reds welcomed their best reliever back from a nearly two-month stay on the injured list on Tuesday, but Tejay Antone’s return lasted only five pitches. Antone grimaced in obvious pain after his fifth pitch and immediately called for the training staff to come to the mound, at which point he was removed from the game.
Any type of arm discomfort after spending two months on the shelf due to a forearm strain is troubling, and manager David Bell expressed concern to reporters in his postgame session (link via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com). “He definitely felt something in his elbow,” Bell said of Antone.
A return trip to the injured list would be a tough blow to a Reds club that has soared into Wild Card position over the past several weeks. Antone is not only Cincinnati’s best reliever but one of the better relievers in the entire league when at his best. The 27-year-old made his MLB debut last year and has since pitched 69 innings of 2.48 ERA ball with a huge 32.3 percent strikeout rate, a 10.8 percent walk rate and a 48 percent ground-ball rate. Since making his debut, Antone ranks 27th in strikeout percentage among the 307 pitchers who’ve tallied at least 60 innings. He has the second-highest rate of called strikes in that same set (22.9 percent) and ranks third in combined called/swinging-strike rate (35.8 percent).
An Antone injury is particularly concerning for the Reds given that bullpen struggles have been the team’s Achilles heel all season. Cincinnati has the fourth-highest collective bullpen ERA in the Majors (5.27) and has seen continued struggles even after adding three relievers at the deadline (4.99 ERA over the past 30 days; 6.21 over the past two weeks). Veteran left-hander Sean Doolittle was designated for assignment just yesterday.
If Antone ultimately requires another absence, the Reds will continue to lean on the combination of Mychal Givens, Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett late in games. Cincinnati currently has sole possession of the second NL Wild Card spot, but the Padres (one game), Cardinals (four and a half games) and Phillies (five games) are all within striking distance.