CINCINNATI -- Sure, starting pitcher Alfredo Simon has had a successful start here and there for the Reds this season. But between here and there has been a wide chasm of struggles and lost games.
Simon was behind most of the night and the Reds were unable to completely catch up during Wednesday's 12-7 loss to the Cardinals. As the organization grooms top pitching prospects Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed in Triple-A Louisville for callups that could be soon, Simon is running out of time.
"We've got to have pressure with some guys performing at Triple-A in order to bring them up," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The reason Freddie's had so much rope is he was with us for three years and had terrific numbers and always wanted to pitch.
"He just hasn't gotten on to a roll and it's been a battle for him really since the inception of the season."
Simon, who left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed to enter, has a 9.11 ERA through 12 games and 11 starts. Although he doesn't have enough innings to qualify, he does have the highest ERA among pitchers with at least 50 innings.
Wednesday started ominously as Simon walked his first two batters with eight balls on 11 pitches. Matt Adams slugged a first pitch into the right-field seats and quickly made it 3-0. The Reds' lineup tallied five runs and 13 hits against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, but it still wasn't enough. The game-deciding blow was Brandon Moss' booming two-run homer in the fifth. Simon finished the inning and ended up allowing six runs on seven hits and five walks over five innings.
"He was a little off. When you give up a three-run home run in the first inning, it's kind of tough to see the bigger picture as far as how he pitched," Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "I think, when you give up a three-run home run in the first inning without getting an out, it's easy to maybe pack it in a little bit. I don't think he did that at all. He gave us what he had. It wasn't obviously his best stuff and I'm sure he would tell you that, but he kept us in the ballgame to be honest with you."
Simon, signed for $2 million on March 17 to return and provide length and innings, has a 2-6 record and two starts of at least seven innings. One of those was his last time out in a win at Colorado. Cincinnati has a 3-9 record in games he's pitched.
Also on Wednesday at Triple-A, Reed pitched seven innings and allowed three runs for a win and has a 3.38 ERA in 10 starts. Stephenson, who has two big league starts this season, has a 3.47 ERA in his 10 starts.
Anthony DeSclafani is returning from the disabled list on Friday to make his season debut vs. the A's. DeSclafani is replacing Jon Moscot, who underperformed. The next time a change is needed, it could be Simon's turn to come out of the rotation.
"To really hit on all cylinders we've got to get good starts out of the entire five," Price said. "Maybe an influx of some of our young starters will help with that."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.