It was going to be pretty difficult for Tuesday's outing to go worse for Lucas Giolito than his start last Thursday did.
That was perhaps his worst turn in a White Sox uniform last week, when he recorded only four outs and gave up seven runs to the Baltimore Orioles. He gave up six hits, three walks and a couple home runs.
And so, yeah, Tuesday's effort looked much better by comparison. But Giolito's start against the Cleveland Indians didn't do much to help his season numbers — nor did it do much to change the minds of White Sox fans and observers who think Giolito should be given the Carson Fulmer treatment and take some time to figure things out at Triple-A Charlotte.
Giolito allowed five runs in his six innings Tuesday night in Ohio. He gave up nine hits and walked nobody, striking out a trio of Indians hitters. For the first time as a big leaguer, Giolito gave up five runs in back-to-back starts. He allowed two more first-inning runs to sky his first-inning ERA to 11.45. Add a third run surrendered in the third, and his ERA in the first three innings this season is 9.79. With this being Giolito's last start of the month, three of his six May outings featured multiple home runs allowed.
Giolito's season ERA stayed at 7.53, exactly what it was when he began his start.
And that brings us back to last week, when manager Rick Renteria was asked what makes Giolito's situation different from Fulmer's.
Fulmer got sent down to Triple-A after allowing eight runs against the Texas Rangers a couple weeks ago. His ERA shot up to 8.07, earning him time to figure things out in Charlotte. Renteria said the two pitchers are totally different, and he cited Giolito's ability to make it through a significant number of innings after running into early trouble. And certainly Renteria is right there, Giolito has been able to do that, most notably against the Cubs, a start in which he walked seven hitters but pitched 5.2 innings and got the win. He did something similar against the Indians.
That could be considered a positive from Tuesday night. The fact that Giolito didn't walk anyone is definitely a positive for a guy who started the day as the American League's walks leader.
This season was always going to be about growing pains and watching the sometimes painful process of player development in real time at the major league level. Working in Giolito's favor, of course, is the team's status as a last-place, non-contender in a rebuilding season. Even if the results continue to not be pretty, if there are valuable experiences to be had at the big league level — something Renteria talks about often — that's more important than winning games in this developmental campaign.
But the bottom line is that Giolito again gave up a bunch of runs in a game the White Sox lost. Until he doesn't on a consistent basis, the calls for his temporary demotion likely won't be going anywhere.