After struggling in just his third start since being called up from Triple-A Louisville, it appears he could be headed back.
Bailey posted the second-shortest outing of his Major League career and the Reds got throttled by the hot-hitting Red Sox in a 9-0 loss on Sunday.
The loss left Bailey frustrated and Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker pondering what to do next with the consistently unstable No. 5 spot in the Reds' pitching rotation.
"There have got to be some discussions," Baker said. "If you're not making pitches and that's your job to do, we've got to figure out what's up and why. We'll have to go back and think about it. You've got to have something to get some guys out with. This is the big leagues, and we've got to figure out something."
Asked whether Bailey's problems could be worked out by staying in Cincinnati, Baker had his doubts.
"I haven't thought that far yet, but usually not," Baker said. "Usually that's something you work out down there. But we'll see."
Bailey (0-3) couldn't hit his spots with his pitches and lasted just 2 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on four hits with three walks and no strikeouts -- a stat line similar to that of his last start, which also came to an end in a hurry.
After falling victim to errors during a loss in his 2008 debut, Bailey gave up five runs on eight hits through just 3 2/3 innings against St. Louis on Tuesday.
"I didn't throw well, and they definitely took advantage of it," said Bailey, who surrendered three of Boston's season-high-tying four home runs. "If I knew [what was wrong], I guess I could try and figure it out. Physically I feel fine -- I'm just not going out there and getting the job done."
Bailey is the third pitcher to occupy the No. 5 spot in the Reds' rotation this season. Josh Fogg held it to begin the season but lost it to Matt Belisle after three starts. Belisle struggled through six starts, only to surrender it back to Fogg.
Fogg started once more before going on the disabled list with lower back spasms, allowing Bailey to assume the role.
"It's very frustrating, especially in that particular spot in the rotation," Baker said. "We've tried a number of guys in the rotation, and it hasn't worked. That's the frustrating part."
If Bailey is indeed demoted to Louisville, the most viable candidate appears to be Daryl Thompson, who pitched 8 2/3 innings and gave up just one run for Louisville on Saturday.
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.25 ERA through four starts. He was promoted May 26 from Double-A Chattanooga, where he was 3-2 with a 1.76 ERA through 10 starts.
Josh Beckett (7-4) picked up the win for Boston after throwing seven shutout innings in which he allowed just six hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
While Beckett kept the Reds off the basepaths, the Red Sox gave him plenty of run support.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off the first and stole second and third base safely before Dustin Pedroia drove him in with a sacrifice fly to right.
Bailey walked Jason Varitek with one out in the second before Coco Crisp hit his second home run in as many games for a 3-0 Boston lead. Bailey gave up his second homer to Ellsbury in the next inning and his third to J.D. Drew two batters later.
Bailey walked the next batter he faced and was immediately taken out.
Jeremy Affeldt got the Reds out of the inning and pitched a solid fourth before allowing five consecutive Red Sox to reach base in the fifth, when Cincinnati native Kevin Youkilis hit an RBI single and Crisp plated two more with a single to left.
"They found that same hole three or four times in a row," Affeldt said. "They did what Red Sox do -- they found a way to score no matter what. They put the ball where we weren't, and that's kind of how it went."
The Red Sox hit their fourth home run of the game when Pedroia went deep off Gary Majewski in the sixth. It was Majewski's first appearance since returning from the bereavement list Saturday.
Jolbert Cabrera, starting at shortstop for the slumping Paul Janish, went 2-for-3 and Joey Votto added three hits, but neither threatened to score.
"When we get a well-pitched game, we usually win," Baker said. "And when we don't get a well-pitched game, we get killed like we did today."
Brandon Harris is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.