Until Tuesday, circumstances had favored Manny Banuelos' bid to remain in the White Sox rotation.
The Sox lost Carlos Rodon for the season to Tommy John elbow surgery, the Ervin Santana experiment was a bust and the team refuses to rush hot prospect Dylan Cease.
But the events surrounding Banuelos' latest outing might force the Sox to get creative.
The struggling left-hander left Tuesday's start with a strained shoulder after giving up three home runs in four innings of a 9-0 loss to the Indians, his third straight defeat despite giving up a season-low four hits as a starter.
After the game, trainers evaluated Banuelos after an initial determination of shoulder soreness and a team spokesman said Banuelos would be re-evaluated Wednesday.
"He was just moving it, shaking his arm around a lot," manager Rick Renteria said after the game. "Something didn't seem right. ... He said he felt something, just some soreness there, so we took him out."
Renteria said he couldn't speculate on whether Banuelos would miss his next scheduled start Monday against the Astros.
Banuelos' first two innings were uneventful before his meltdown started in the third.
He gave up five runs on four hits and three walks, and the bullpen allowed four runs in five innings as the Indians earned a split of the two-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field.
"He got some pitches out over the plate," Renteria said. "Mislocated. Another thing that he and Coop (pitching coach Don Cooper) had been talking about; just commanding, locating, executing."
Banuelos has allowed eight home runs and 19 runs over just 11 innings in his last three starts. His ERA swelled to 7.26.
The Sox are helped by an off day Wednesday. Their rotation is set for the home series against Blue Jays, but, if Banuelos is hurt long term, they would need another starter before beginning a road series against the Astros.
Are they hard-pressed enough to give Carson Fulmer another shot? Fulmer has been working as a reliever at Triple-A Charlotte. In his last two appearances, he has given up three runs and three walks in three innings.
Double-A Birmingham left-hander Kyle Kubat could be a candidate. He saw his scoreless streak ended at 37 2/3 innings Monday.
A rebuilding team trading assets for pitching doesn't make much sense unless it's a bargain-basement deal. The South Siders have more problems than keeping pitchers healthy.
Tuesday's game against the Indians followed the theme of Thursday's in Cleveland: Carlos Carrasco keeping Sox hitters under control while Jordan Luplow lights up Sox pitching.
Last week Carrasco gave up just two hits and struck out six while Luplow homered twice against Banuelos.
On Tuesday, Luplow had his second two-homer game – that's three in his career and, yes, two of them have come against the Sox – launching a Banuelos sinker in the fourth inning and tagging Josh Osich's 2-1 cutter in the sixth.
Osich coughed up another homer to Jose Ramirez in the next at-bat, the first time the light-hitting Indians have hit back-to-back home runs this season.
Sox relievers gave up four runs after Banuelos' exit, though one was unearned because of an error by Ryan Cordell in right.
Entering Tuesday, Sox relievers had the fifth most runs allowed per game (5.22) in baseball, according to baseball-reference.com.
For a team that doesn't always know who its next starter will be, the bullpen's shakiness is worrisome.