Though inefficient, Davis has a shot in Cincy

Though inefficient, Davis has a shot in Cincy

CINCINNATI -- Through five Major League starts, including Monday's 10-4 loss to the Yankees, Reds pitcher Rookie Davis has averaged 82 pitches per game. That doesn't seem like a ton of pitches until you notice that Davis has yet to reach the sixth inning.

Davis lasted 4 1/3 innings vs. New York and gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits, three walks and four strikeouts while throwing 91 pitches -- 55 for strikes.

"I know as a starter, anything less than six innings, to me, is unacceptable," Davis said. "I haven't been able to do that this year. I'm going to put a huge emphasis on pounding the strike zone with all pitches and just compete. That's all I can do."

Reds starters were 5-0 with a 1.72 ERA over their five-game winning streak, which was snapped with Monday's loss. One of those games belonged to Davis, who will get more opportunities to improve. There are currently no more attractive alternatives.

Robert Stephenson, who threw three innings for a save on Saturday, is still trying to find consistency. Cody Reed, who struggled with command before being sent down, pitched for Triple-A Louisville on Monday and gave up three runs, four hits, two walks and a homer in 2 2/3 innings. Also at Louisville, Sal Romano is on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury and just resumed a throwing program.

Monday's game started on an off note for Davis, who didn't touch first base with his foot on Brett Gardner's leadoff ground ball to Joey Votto. It set up a big three-run inning for the Yankees.

Davis faced seven batters in the inning and had thrown 39 pitches through two innings.

Price on loss to Yankees

"The thing I noticed from the first inning was they were recognizing his slider out of the hand and they were laying off it," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He would get ahead or get behind, either way, and he'd throw a nice slider down and away, just off the corner, and no one was biting. We'll have to find a way to make that pitch a little bit more enticing and add something to his arsenal."

Following Aaron Hicks' RBI single with two outs in the second inning, Davis gave up one more run over his final three innings. That stretch included his striking out the side in the fourth.

"The high pitch counts and the inability to get some balls in play early in the count where we could make some plays jacked up his pitch count," Price said. "The Yankees got too much of an opportunity to see too many pitches, and I think that's the type of a team they are. They don't expand the zone a great deal."

That held true for Davis even during his five scoreless innings last week against the Pirates in his first big league win. On Monday, he was facing the organization that drafted him and traded him in the December 2015 Aroldis Chapman deal.

"The start against Pittsburgh, I felt really good," Davis said. "I felt comfortable. Today I felt fine, calm and collected. I feel fine out there. I don't feel like I'm pressing. I don't feel like I'm trying to do too much. It's just a matter of making pitches whenever I need to, and I wasn't able to do that in the first inning."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.