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Bailey adds to Reds' rotation struggles

Veteran right-hander has ERA of 27.00 through first two starts of 2017
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Reds hoped the return of Homer Bailey would be just the thing to stabilize their struggling rotation. But two starts into his 2017 campaign, Cincinnati's starting pool looks to be in even more disarray than before he came back.

Thursday marked Bailey's second outing of the season after spending the better part of 2017 on the disabled list rehabbing from preseason elbow surgery. He lasted three innings, allowing six hits, six runs and three home runs while walking two batters and hitting another in the Reds' 11-3 loss to the Brewers. This comes less than a week after he gave up eight runs over 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals.

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds hoped the return of Homer Bailey would be just the thing to stabilize their struggling rotation. But two starts into his 2017 campaign, Cincinnati's starting pool looks to be in even more disarray than before he came back.

Thursday marked Bailey's second outing of the season after spending the better part of 2017 on the disabled list rehabbing from preseason elbow surgery. He lasted three innings, allowing six hits, six runs and three home runs while walking two batters and hitting another in the Reds' 11-3 loss to the Brewers. This comes less than a week after he gave up eight runs over 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals.

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Bailey's ERA currently sits at 27.00.

"Just not quite as sharp, but a little bit better than last time, which is not really hard to do," Bailey said. "It's just kind of a process. It's not the first time I've had two bad games in a row, so we'll just keep going until it kind of sharpens up."

What has been consistent over the two starts is how well opposing teams are hitting Bailey. Per Statcast™, 11 of the 23 balls in play against Bailey this season have been "hard-hit", or have an exit velocity of 95 mph or more. Four of the 13 balls in play Thursday were hard-hit, two of which had exit velocities of 106-plus mph -- including a Ryan Braun solo home run that started the scoring in the first inning.

Video: MIL@CIN: Braun lines a solo homer off the foul pole

"A couple of mistake pitches," Bailey said. "The one to Braun, obviously, I just didn't finish the pitch very well. I kind of put it on a tee there for him, and a guy like him is going to do that. Other ones, it seemed like everything they hit in the air went out of the park."

Coming into the game, Reds starters ranked last in the Major Leagues in ERA, innings pitched, home runs allowed and opponent OPS. Reds pitchers, including relievers, have now given up a home run in a franchise-record 22 straight games.

This isn't how the Reds envisioned things when Bailey and fellow starter Brandon Finnegan returned from injury earlier this month. But despite the fact the latter is back on the DL after re-injuring his left shoulder and the former has yet to see the fourth inning, Reds manager Bryan Price said he still has confidence in his rotation.

"I don't feel sorry for myself or our team," Price said. "I do think we've fallen victim to what many, many teams around baseball have fallen victim to, and that's not being able to stay healthy with our starting rotation. The guys that are in there, I think are capable of doing a fine job."

Price also said right-handed rookie Jackson Stephens would start for the Reds when they take on the Cubs on Saturday, a decision prompted by Finnegan's return to the DL. Stephens will be the eighth Cincinnati pitcher and the fifth starter to make his Major League debut this season for the club.

Jeremy Vernon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey