Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan could be pitching for his job when he takes the mound Tuesday night in Kansas City.
No matter what happens, McGowan will have a spot on the 25-man roster, but there's uncertainty over whether his future is in the rotation or the bullpen.
McGowan admitted after his last start that he has feeling fatigued around the 60-pitch mark, and unless that issue is solved against the Royals, it might force the Blue Jays to make a change as they continue to search for ways to get more innings out of their starting pitchers.
"The body just feels like it runs out of steam a little bit," McGowan said. "I shouldn't be feeling that, I should be at the point where I can go 90-100 [pitches], especially the way my arm feels. It feels great."
McGowan was staked to an early 6-1 lead in his last outing, but was unable to hold the Orioles in check. He allowed two runs in the third, then departed with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth. He has pitched more than four innings just once this season and owns a 6.88 ERA in four starts.
Left-hander Jason Vargas will get the call for Kansas City and in a lot of ways he has been the polar opposite of McGowan. Vargas has been consistently effective in his first five starts for the Royals as his 1.54 ERA indicates. He's never given up more than two earned runs in a game. His innings have gone 7-8-7-7-6 and he's thrown at least 100 pitches in each game.
"It's better than doing bad. The idea is to do well. It's pretty self-explanatory," Vargas said. "It really doesn't matter until you pitch the next game you're supposed to pitch. None of it all matters if you don't pitch well the next time out."
His next time out is against a team that has given him trouble in the past -- he's 1-3 with a 5.87 ERA in six games against Toronto. But he hasn't faced them since 2012.
Royals manager Ned Yost said Mike Butcher, who was Vargas' pitching coach last year with the Angels, predicted that the Royals would appreciate their free-agent signee.
"He said, 'I hate the fact that we lost him because he's special in terms of what he does on the mound, how he competes, how he can command a baseball,'" Yost said. "So after talking to Butcher, I expected that we're going to have a pretty good guy here."
Vargas is the type of pitcher who doesn't rattle and leans a lot on the Royals' tight defense.
"He doesn't challenge hitters, he makes pitches," Yost said. "It gives him the confidence that, 'If I make a little bit of a mistake, somebody's still going to be there to catch it.'"
Unfortunately for the Royals, they've managed to lose three of his five starts after he left the game.
Blue Jays: Cabrera has chance to set franchise record
• Melky Cabrera just needs one more hit to set the club record for most hits during March and April. Cabrera tied the franchise mark at 39 with a pair of hits during Sunday's 7-1 victory over the Red Sox. He's tied with Shea Hillenbrand (2005) and Shannon Stewart (2001), but can take sole ownership over the impressive feat with a hit either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Cabrera became the first player in franchise history to record at least one hit in all but one of the club's first 25 games. He's riding a 10-game hitting streak and has 12 multihit games while posting an impressive .345 average.
Royals: Nothing to challenge
• The new instant replay challenge system hasn't been used by the Royals, or their opponents for that matter, in the last 10 games.
There was one replay called by the umpires themselves Thursday at Cleveland to determine if Royals catcher Brett Hayes had given runner Asdrubal Cabrera a clear path to the plate before tagging him out to end the first inning. The verdict was that he did.
In the first 14 games of the season, the Royals were involved in 10 replay challenges. Yost is 2-2 in his challenges; opposing skippers are 3-3.
• Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is hitting just .179, but seven of his 17 hits have gone for extra bases. He leads the team with 20 RBIs and trails only Jose Bautista for the most home runs with six.
• Bautista has reached base safely in all of Toronto's 25 games. He's riding an eight-game hitting streak and has reached base in 52 of his 112 plate appearances, which equates to a .464 on-base percentage.
• Alex Gordon drew his 360th walk Sunday, tying him for 10th place on the Royals' all-time list.
• Shortstop Alcides Escobar has hit safely in six of his last seven games and was 7-for-24 on the Royals' road trip.