Adleman identifies flaw to improve upon

Reds starter struggles with two-strike counts in loss to D-backs

Adleman identifies flaw to improve upon

PHOENIX -- Reds starting pitcher Tim Adleman didn't care or worry so much about working opposite D-backs All-Star ace Zack Greinke. Adleman felt as if he did his job well, then his lineup could stay in the game.

Even though Greinke pitched well in the Reds' 6-3 loss to Arizona, Adleman was kicking himself as pitching coach Mack Jenkins pointed out one troubling tally from the ledger.

"I was just really bad with two strikes tonight," Adleman said. "They had six hits and five came with two strikes. That's just not a winning formula. That's the story for tonight."

Adleman gave up four runs (three earned) with those six hits over five innings with one walk and four strikeouts. The only time Arizona notched a hit off him without two strikes was Brandon Drury's leadoff double in the fourth inning. Greinke's single up the middle on a 1-2 count made it 3-0.

"Give credit to their hitters, but it's a tough way to get yourself into the at-bats, get to two strikes and not finish," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Cincinnati has dropped five of Adleman's last six starts while he's taken the loss in four of those games. His ERA in that span is 5.23. Paul Goldschmidt's fifth-inning home run -- on an 0-2 fastball that made it a 4-0 game -- extended Adleman's streak of allowing at least one home run in eight straight games.

Entering the night, Adleman's 2.1 homers-per-nine innings was the fifth-highest in the Majors among pitchers with a minimum of 75 innings. But he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 15 starts this season.

"I definitely have plenty of things to improve on," said Adleman, who is 5-6 with a 4.71 ERA in 16 games overall. "By and large I think I am throwing pretty well. Just a few mistakes here and there that I have to eliminate and I have got to work hard to better with. So that's what I'll do and I will just be ready for whenever the next opportunity is."

Price and Jenkins have not set their rotation for after the All-Star break but Adleman will still likely be part of that group.

For a stretch of starts in late May and early June, Adleman was one of the rotation's more dependable starters. He doesn't get flustered much and has shown the ability to pitch deep into games, when he is on.

There haven't been many better options in the system. While Jackson Stephens pitched seven scoreless innings for Triple-A Louisville on Thursday, other prospects like the walks-prone Cody Reed and Amir Garrett haven't fared well. Robert Stephenson is just beginning to come around again after some command struggles.

"He's a kid that comes in and competes in the strike zone, continues to work on the improvement of his curveball, which I think would really be a big difference-maker for him," Price said. "And adding that little slider-cutter pitch he was working on in Spring Training. That hasn't crossed my mind at all, moving him out of the rotation."

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.