Homer Bailey returned to the Cincinnati Reds rotation for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon; it was far from glorious. Instead, three months' worth of hopes for the fans turned to dread as the Washington Nationals tore him apart, limb by limb, pitch by pitch. By the end of the afternoon -- at least his afternoon -- it was worth wondering if maybe more time on the disabled list would have better served Bailey than being served up on a silver platter.

Bailey gets crushed by Nationals

Bailey was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list before Saturday's start, with the Reds optioning Jesse Winker back to Triple-A.

He took the mound in the bottom of the first inning, unsurprisingly facing a 0-0 tie. He allowed the first two batters to reach base, but struck out superstar Bryce Harper, seemingly preparing himself to turn around his shaky start. Then, Ryan Zimmerman came to the plate and doubled, plating two runs.

Things got much worse in the second inning. Bailey gave up a run on a single before eventually striking out Harper again for the second out of the inning. That would be the last out he would record. A walk and two doubles would plate four more runs, ending his afternoon. Another run would score immediately after he was relieved, leaving him with eight earned runs in just 1.2 innings. The Reds would lose 18-3, with Bailey picking up his first loss of the season.

Is Homer Bailey overrated?

Reds fans were eagerly anticipating Bailey's first start of the season as if he would be an elixir for all that had ailed the pitching staff this season. Instead, he now has a 0-1 record and a nearly impossible 43.20 ERA to start his year. He wants be supplanting the venerable Scott Feldman in the rotation with performances like that.

Just over a decade ago, Bailey made his MLB debut and became part of a young pitching core with Johnny Cueto, expected to help Cincinnati maintain viability in the NL Central. He has managed to throw two no-hitters in his career but has never made an All-Star Game. Prior to this start, his career ERA stood at 4.24 and he only recorded six more victories than defeats.

He was once seen as the future of the Reds rotation, but he may just be a relic of a team that can't figure out how to address their starting pitching struggles. He's under contract for at least three more seasons, though, making at least $19 million in each; he is going to be challenging to move on from.