On Wednesday, the Red Sox will look to close out a series that began with Kason Gabbard's first professional shutout.
Gabbard will not face the Royals again in this series, but his fate may ultimately come down to games like Wednesday's. Julian Tavarez will get the start against the Royals, and fans will be watching to see if the Red Sox's fifth starter can break a run of subpar performances.
Tavarez has not won since June 20 in Atlanta. The Red Sox have lost four straight Tavarez starts.
His No. 5 rotation slot may be up for grabs when Curt Schilling returns to the team around the beginning of August. Gabbard would stand to benefit if Tavarez continues to falter.
Tavarez has a 5.76 ERA against the Royals in 25 career innings. His scheduled opponent, veteran lefty Odalis Perez, hasn't won since June 18, exactly one month ago.
BOS: RHP Julian Tavarez (5-7, 5.15 ERA)
Tavarez's season has been one of periodic stretches of competence -- his 3.66 ERA in May and June were critical to a Red Sox team that began to struggle offensively -- marred by trouble in April and July. Despite starting the month by allowing one earned run to the Texas Rangers in 5 2/3 innings, Tavarez has an 8.16 ERA in three July starts.
KC: LHP Odalis Perez (4-8, 5.68 ERA)
Unlike Tavarez, Perez has struggled the entire season, allowing 130 hits in 101 1/3 innings. He has started four times against the Red Sox in his career, allowing 11 earned runs in 24 1/3 innings.
Player to watch
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has reached base five times in nine plate appearances against Perez. He launched a homer off the veteran lefty in 2004.
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Thursday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 11-6, 3.94) vs. White Sox (Javier Vazquez, 6-5, 3.77), 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 12-3, 3.35) vs. White Sox (Jose Contreras, 5-11, 5.32), 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday: Red Sox (Kason Gabbard, 3-0, 3.38) vs. White Sox (John Danks, 6-6, 4.81), 3:55 p.m. ET
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.