Tejay Antone, Vladimir Gutierrez, Todd Frazier

Tejay Antone, by every statistical metric, is having a dominant start to the season out of the Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen.

Antone has permitted four hits, one run and four walks in 10 2/3 innings (0.84 ERA). He’s struck out 17 of the 40 batters he’s faced. The Reds save him for high-leverage situations, relying on him to protect leads. He’s faltered just once, surrendering a game-tying homer to Andrew Young on Tuesday.

The only problem with reliever Tejay Antone's performance this season has been his inability to retire the first batter he faces.

But there is one strange part about Antone’s success. He’s had trouble with the first batter. In his six relief appearances, the leadoff batter against Antone has reached base five times (four walks, one single).

Why has he struggled against the first batter?

“I like pressure – no, I’m kidding,” Antone said, laughing. “I think it’s just settling in, making it click on the mound. I really do wish I could make it click a lot faster. It would be a lot less stressful for me.”

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