SARASOTA, Fla. -- Jeremy Affeldt knows that his rotation audition could soon get to the point where the Reds say, "Don't call us, we'll call you -- from the bullpen." "Obviously, pitching like I'm pitching -- it's not going to win the spot," Affeldt said after giving up seven earned runs over 3 1/3 innings in a 10-7 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night. "I have to change that. I have to figure out a way to do it in a hurry." Affeldt also allowed nine hits -- most of them on solid contact -- and a walk, with three strikeouts. Over his last two starts, totaling 6 2/3 innings, the left-hander has surrendered 13 earned runs on 15 hits.
In 11 2/3 innings over four starts, Affeldt is 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA. While he has struggled, other rotation candidates, such as Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez, have been impressive. The Reds signed Affeldt to a one-year, $3 million contract in January with the hopes of converting the former Rockies reliever back into a starter. He would be the only lefty in the Cincinnati rotation if he makes it. If he doesn't, Affeldt is still expected to be on Cincinnati's 25-man roster, in a bullpen spot. Right now Affeldt's location is off, and some of his pitches are sitting over the middle of the plate. He plans on meeting with pitching coach Dick Pole on Friday to go over his outings. "For me it's about executing pitches for more than one inning," Affeldt said. "If I want to be a starter, I have to execute my pitches for six innings. I'm not doing that. My first two starts, I felt pretty good about it. Then for some reason, my last two, I've just haven't." Following a scoreless first inning, the Phillies scored four runs in the top of the second. After Affeldt allowed a one-out triple and a pair of two-out singles, No. 9 hitter Casey Smith launched a three-run homer to left field. With one out in the fourth, manager Dusty Baker came to get Affeldt, who'd thrown 70 pitches. "That's an embarrassing amount of pitches in a small amount of innings," Affeldt said. "Right now, whatever I'm doing is not working. I need to fix it." If Affeldt won't be one of their starters, the Reds will have to determine soon if he should go back to the bullpen to get ready to be a reliever again. "There's going to come a day. I don't know when that day is yet," Baker said. "We'll have to go back to the drawing board and check it out and see what we need, what's going on and then make a decision."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.