Monday, September 25, 2023
5-Hour Energy

MLB Preview: Colorado Rockies (48-76) at Tampa Bay Rays (75-51)



  • The Colorado Rockies begin their six-game road trip to Tampa Bay and Baltimore tonight with the first game of a three-game series vs. the Rays.
  • The Rockies are coming off of a 3-3 homestand, dropping two of three to Arizona before taking two of three against the Chicago White Sox.
  • Each of the Rockies’ next seven opponents, and nine of their 10 opponents remaining on the schedule, are above .500.


  • The Rockies have used a franchise record 32 total pitchers this season, one more than the 2019 club’s 31 hurlers … the Rockies have also tied the franchise record by using 15 different starting pitchers this season, tied with the 1993 and 2014 clubs for the most starters used in franchise history.
  • The Rockies have used 53 total players, tied for the ninth-most in the Majors and the most players used for the club since setting a franchise record with 55 players in 2011.


  • The Rockies face the Rays for the first time since 2019 when they dropped two of three at Tropicana April 1-3 … this is just the third series all-time between the two teams in Saint Petersburg, with the Rockies losing three games here in 2004 … Colorado is 10-11 all-time against Tampa Bay, having gone 9-6 against the Rays at Coors Field.
  • The Rockies are in a stretch of three straight and four of five series against American League ballclubs, having gone 15-19 in Interleague play this season … 11 of the Rockies’ 33 games so far after the All-Star Break have come against AL clubs, all 11 of them at home, with the Rockies going 6-5.


  • Ryan McMahon’s 16 defensive runs saved are tied for the fourth-most in the Majors and lead all Major League third basemen.
  • Rookie shortstop Ezequiel Tovar’s 11 DRS are fifth among all shortstops, third in the NL … his .986 fielding percentage currently stands as the second-best fielding percentage by a rookie shortstop in Major League history (min. 100 games) trailing Troy Tulowitzki (.987, 2007) (via. STATS PERFORM).
  • Rookie center fielder Brenton Doyle’s 11 defensive runs saved on the season lead all National League center fielders and rank third overall in the Majors … his 95.7 MPH average arm strength ranks fifth among all outfielders … Doyle’s active 85-game errorless streak is the second-longest by a rookie in Rockies history behind Matt Reynold’s 94 games from 2010-11, and is the second-longest active streak in the NL.
  • Rookie outfielder Nolan Jones has totaled six DRS in the outfield while starting 31 games in right field and 21 in left … his average arm strength of 98.7 MPH is the best among all position players.
  • Jones has 10 outfield assists, tied for the fifth-most in baseball and the most among all rookies … tied for the most by a Rockies rookie outfielder in franchise history with Brad Hawpe (2005) and tied for the 12th most in a season by any Rockies outfielder.


  • Charlie Blackmon has hit safely in each of his first six games since being reinstated from the injured list on Aug. 14, going 9-for-20 (.450) with two triples, two home runs, five RBI, four walks and one strikeout … has homered in consecutive games for the first time this season.
  • Blackmon is five RBI shy of tying Vinny Castilla (745 RBI) for the sixth-most in franchise history, and nine shy of tying Carlos González for fifth.


  • Ezequiel Tovar has recorded a season-high three hits twice in his last six games and is slashing .290/.354/.522 with four doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI in 18 games in August … has drawn seven walks in the month after collecting 14 free passes total through the first four months of the season.
  • Tovar ranks in the top 10 among all rookies in franchise history in home runs (14, T-5th), doubles (27, 8th), RBI (57, T-6th) and hits (114, 9th).
  • Nolan Jones is tied for 10th among rookies in franchise history with 12 home runs … his 19.08 at-bats per home run rate ranks fifth among rookies in franchise history (min. 175 PA), trailing Trevor Story (13.78, 2016), Pat Valaika (14.00), Wilin Rosario (14.14, 2012) and Jose Ortiz (15.69, 2001).
  • Tovar and Jones are the third pair of rookies in franchise history to each hit at least 10 home runs in a season, joining Luis Gonzalez/Matt Holliday (2004) and Garrett Atkins/Clint Barmes (2005).


  • The Rockies placed five Minor League players in the recently updated MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects: SS Adael Amador (#21), OF Yanquiel Fernandez (#53), RHP Chase Dollander (#63), OF Jordan Beck (#88) and OF Zac Veen (#99).


  • Has made two career appearances against Tampa Bay, both in 2019 as a member of the Orioles, going 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA (9.0 IP, 9 ER), six walks and four strikeouts.
  • Lone start at Tropicana Field came on Sept. 3, 2019, a 4-2 Giants win … allowed two runs on two hits in five innings.
  • Is 3-4 with a 5.80 ERA (45.0 IP, 29 ER) in 14 career appearances (seven starts) against AL clubs.


  • Didn’t factor into the Rockies’ 8-5 loss to Arizona on Aug. 15 vs. Arizona, allowing two runs in five innings in a 8-5 Rockies loss.


  • Has posted a 2.66 ERA (23.2 IP, 7 ER) with six walks, 10 strikeouts and 22 hits allowed (.250 opponent average) in his five starts since July 23.
  • Made his first start of the year on July 23 at Miami in what was a bullpen game at the time … spun three innings and allowed just two hits with two strikeouts.
  • Became a regular member of the rotation after his first start … tossed five scoreless innings with three hits allowed in his second start, July 30 vs. Oakland.
  • Made seven appearances out of the bullpen before joining the rotation … over the seven relief appearances allowed 13 runs (10 earned) in 13.1 innings … allowed 24 hits, two walks with five strikeouts.
  • From April 28 through the first inning on Aug. 5, tossed 12 consecutive scoreless innings, tied for the third-longest scoreless inning streak by a Rockies pitcher this season.


  • Has gone 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA (19.1 IP, 8 ER) in seven appearances (two starts) at Coors Field this season.
  • The Colorado native has combined to go 2-1 with a 5.03 ERA (62.2 IP, 35 ER) in 25 career appearances (five starts) at Coors Field.
  • Has posted a 4.57 ERA (45.1 IP, 23 ER) in 18 total appearances (three starts) at Coors Field as a member of the Rockies … has allowed just six home runs at home over that span.


  • Has gone 0-1 with a 5.75 ERA (36.0 IP, 23 ER) in 18 appearances on the road since joining the Rockies in 2022 … the Rockies have lost his three road starts this season despite him posting a 3.29 ERA (13.2 IP, 5 ER), providing him two total runs of support.


  • On Sundays in his career, “The Preacher” holds an ERA of 3.74 (74.2 IP, 31 ER) … he is 3-3 in 23 games (11 starts) with one save in one opportunity.
  • Since 2022, the lefty’s ERA on Sundays is tied for the 14th-lowest ERA in the Majors, tied for fifth-lowest in the NL (minimum 15 IP).


RAY REPORT — Tampa Bay split Saturday’s twin bill at Los Angeles-AL, completing its final West Coast swing of the year, a six-game, six-day trip, with a 4-2 record… he Rays sre 13-8 in their last 21 games, including 6-3 in their last nine, following an MLB-worst 5-15 (.250) stretch from 7/1-26…they currently occupy the first Wild Card spot, leading Houston by 4.0 games and Seattle by 4.5 games…Tampa Bay sits 3.0 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East after spending 111 consecutive days atop the division from 3/30-7/19…the Rays are 6-1-1 in their last eight series on the heels of a 2-7-1 performance in series play from 6/12-7/23.

Tampa Bay is 15-5 (.750) in home series openers, including winners of three straight, the best mark in MLB ahead of Atlanta and Los Angeles-NL (both 15-6, .714)…the Rays are 28-12 (.700) overall in series openers, tied with Los Angeles-NL (also 28-12) for the best mark in the majors.

The Rays scored a season-high 18 runs in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Angels, their most since producing a franchise-high-tying 19 runs on 7/14/18 at Minnesota…Tampa Bay’s 20 hits also marked a season high and were its most since a 20-hit output on 7/12/19 at Baltimore…the Rays have now recorded 20+ hits 11 times in franchise history.

Every Rays starter registered a hit in game two of the doubleheader, marking the fourth time Tampa Bay has accomplished the feat this season, three of which have come in the last six games (8/14 at SF and 8/18 at LAA).

The Rays +14 run differential in the win over the Angels was tied for the second largest in a game in club history (3x, last 7/29/21 vs. NYY)…the largest was 15 runs (4/19/14 vs. NYY and 9/5/07 vs. BAL).

Each starter also scored a run in the 18-4 victory on Saturday night, marking the second time Tampa Bay has done so this season (also 6/30 at SEA).

BASH BROTHERS — Isaac Paredes recorded his team-leading 24th HR in the sixth inning of game two in the twin bill on Saturday…four batters later, Jose Siri went deep, keeping pace with Paredes for the club lead…the Rays are one of five teams with multiple players having 24+ HR, joining the Braves (5), Dodgers (3), Padres (2) and Cardinals (2).

THE YANDY MAN CAN — Yandy Díaz has reached base safely in 18 of his last 19 games since 7/30, producing a .373/.429/.518 (31-for-83) line with six doubles, two homers and 10 RBI…this includes a .407 (24-for-59) mark over his last 13 games.

He has recorded multiple hits in a career-high-tying four straight games (also 4/18-22, 2023)…his 42 multi-hit games this season are tied for fourth most in the AL behind SEA Julio Rodríguez (44G), TOR Bo Bichette (43G) and BOS Masataka Yoshida (43G).

NO JOSHING AROUND — Josh Lowe has hit safely in 13 of his last 16 games dating back to 7/30, batting .333 (20-for-60) with four doubles, one triple, 3 HR and 14 RBI…he recorded 3 RBI in consecutive games from 8/18-19 (G1), becoming the only Ray to have multiple streaks of 3+ RBI (also 5/11-12)…Brandon Lowe (4/8-9) and Isaac Paredes (4/7-8) are the only other Rays to record 3+ RBI in two straight games this year.

Lowe is batting .465 (20-for-43) with runners in scoring position and two outs, the second-best mark in the majors (min. 40AB) behind only TEX Jonah Heim (.475).

HAROLD HEATING UP — Harold Ramírez tallied a career-high four hits in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader at Los Angeles-AL, while his four RBI matched a career high (also 9/19/21 at NYY)…he joined Taylor Walls (4/18 at CIN) as the only Rays to record both 4 hits and 4 RBI in a single game this season.

He has recorded a hit in 14 of his last 18 games since 7/26, batting an MLB-leading .439 (25-for-57) in that span (min. 50AB), outpacing LAD Mookie Betts (.408) and
SEA Julio Rodríguez (.398).

He has hit safely in each of his last five starts since 8/13, going 13-for-23 (.565) with two doubles, one triple, 8 RBI and six runs.

ON THE OFFENSIVE — The Rays have pushed across 6+ runs in seven of their last nine games, averaging 7.33 runs per game in those contests despite being shut out on 8/15 at San Francisco…they are batting .388 (33-for-85) with runners in scoring position over that timeframe; their .348 average with RISP during August paces the majors, ahead of Atlanta (.328) and Los Angeles-NL (.325).

Tampa Bay has scored 66 runs over its last nine games since 8/11…its most runs scored over a nine-game span this year was 74 runs from 4/5-14.

Randy Arozarena has a hit in 12 of his last 13 games, batting .302 (16-for-53)… he homered in Saturday’s nightcap, snapping a season-long 15-game home run drought dating back to 8/2.

LEFT SIDE, STRONG SIDE — Tampa Bay is an MLB-best 16-7 (.696) against left-handed starting pitchers this season.

Harold Ramírez is batting .381 (32-for-84) against southpaws, the second-best mark in the majors (min. 75AB) behind ATL Ozzie Albies (.389)…this includes a .450 (9-for-20) clip against lefties in August.

Yandy Díaz hit .438 (14-for-32) against left-handed pitching from June through July, but has gone 4-for-22 (.182) against southpaws in August.

MILE HIGH MATCHUP — The Rays and Rockies kick off a three-game set tonight at Tropicana Field…the clubs last met in 2019, with the Rays taking two of three from the Rockies at Tropicana Field from 4/1-3.

It marks the third time the Rays have hosted the Rockies…Colorado swept a three-game set in its first trip to Tampa Bay from 6/11-13, 2004…nearly 15 years passed before Colorado’s second trip to Tampa Bay, as the next 12 matchups between the clubs were at Coors Field from 6/15/07-7/20/16.

After spending the 2022 season in Cleveland’s farm system, RHP Kevin Kelly was selected by the Rockies with the No. 8 pick in the major league phase of the 2022 Rule 5 Draft and traded to Tampa Bay for cash considerations on 12/7/22.

Rockies RHP Germán Márquez, who is currently on the 60-day injured list, signed with the Rays in 2011 and was traded to Colorado, along with Jake McGee, on 1/28/16 in exchange for OF Corey Dickerson and INF Kevin Padlo.

Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder was named to the 2007 Red Sox World Series roster, but did not pitch in Boston’s four-game sweep of Colorado in the Fall Classic.

Triple-A Durham manager Michael Johns, a former infielder, was selected by the Rockies in the 19th round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft and played two years for their Class-A Affiliates, the Portland Rockies and Asheville Tourists.

Colorado’s Director of Pitching Operations, Steve Foster, was a scout for Tampa Bay (1999-2000)…Rockies advanced scout, Joe Little, was drafted by the Rays in the 26th round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and spent parts of three years in the organization.

TONIGHT’S START — The sixth-year veteran makes his eighth start/21st appearance of the season to kick off the Rays six-game homestand, including his third start/ninth outing at home…this marks his sixth “true” start of the season after serving in an opener/relief capacity to begin the year…has gone 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA (28.0IP, 8ER) in six appearances (5GS) since the All-Star break, striking out 22 while issuing just one walk…is searching for his first career win at Tropicana Field.

LAST TIME OUT — Littell fell one out shy of tossing a third straight quality start but received no run support against his former club in the Rays 7-0 defeat at San Francisco on 8/15 (L, 5.2IP, 3H, 2ER, 5SO, HR)…yielded a solo homer to Thairo Estrada in the sixth before departing following a two-out single by Wade Meckler, who crossed home plate after Littell’s departure… fanned a career-high five batters for the second consecutive start

READY TO ROCK? — Littell will be making his first career start opposite the Rockies, his former NL West rival during his stint with San Francisco (2021-22)…has made 10 career relief appearances against Colorado, going 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA (9.1IP, 3ER) and 0.75 WHIP while holding Rockies hitters to a .125 (4-for-32) average and .419 OPS…he turned in a 6.00 ERA (3.0IP, 2ER) in four outings against Colorado last season.…has recorded 11.57 SO/9.0 IP against the Rockies, his second-highest mark against any opponent (min. 5.0IP) behind Arizona (11.88).

He has pitched to an 0-2 record and a 4.85 ERA (26.0IP, 14ER) in 12 Interleague games this season, including a 4.02 ERA (15.2IP, 7ER) across four starts; the Rays are 1-3 in those games…this includes a 2.70 ERA (10.0IP, 3ER) over four games (2GS) vs. NL West opponents.

ODDS AND ENDS — Littell’s 2.57 ERA (28.0IP, 8ER) since the All-Star break ranks 11th in the AL (min. 25.0IP)…he has traditionally been at his best in the second half of the season — in his career, he is 2-5 with a 5.27 ERA (94.0IP, 55ER) in 82 appearances (5GS) before the All-Star break compared to 13-4 with a 2.79 ERA (116.2IP, 36ER) in 77 outings (6GS) following the break.

He is 2-3 with a 3.00 ERA (30.0IP, 10ER) in seven starts this season and 0-1 with a 5.71 ERA (17.1IP, 11ER) in 13 relief appearances.

Since his first “true” start (i.e. excluding openers) of the season on 7/19 at Texas, left-handed hitters are batting .189 (10-for-53) against him compared to .304 (17-for-56) vs. righties.

He has received zero runs of support in his last two starts after enjoying 12.27 runs of support per 9.0 IP in his first five.

NO FREE PASSES — Over his last 12 appearances spanning 38.2 innings, Littell has walked just one batter (Riley Greene, 8/4 at DET)…his 0.23 BB/9.0 IP during that span (since 6/21) is the second-lowest mark in the majors (min. 30.0IP), trailing only SF Ross Stripling (0.20 BB/9.0IP)…over that timeframe, Littell has thrown 69.3 pct. of his pitches for strikes, the fourth-highest percentage in the AL (min. 400 pitches thrown) behind teammate Zach Eflin (71.4%), KC Ryan Yarbrough (70.6%) and SEA George Kirby (70.2%), and has had only three 3-0 counts over 155 batters faced.

THE ARSENAL — Littell primarily relies on a fastball/slider combination, throwing one of those two offerings 70.4 pct. of the time…added a sweeper to his repertoire this past offseason and has not allowed an extra-base hit on the offering…debuted his sinker on 8/4 and has a 10.6 pct. usage rate on the pitch over his last three starts…previously utilized a sinker as part of his five-pitch mix during his rookie season in 2018 with Minnesota.

Opponents are batting .111 (2-for-18) against his four-seam fastball over his last two starts…in his previous eight outings from 6/29-8/4, opposing batters hit .378 (14-for-37) off his four-seamer.

SEASON RUNDOWN — Littell signed a minor league contract with Texas on 2/3 and was a non-roster invitee to Rangers Spring Training…made eight Cactus League appearances before opening the season with Triple-A Round Rock, going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA (12.0IP, 3ER) in eight relief outings… was dealt to Boston in exchange for cash considerations on 5/5…after pitching in two games for the Red Sox, he was designated for assignment on 5/10 before being claimed by the Rays off waivers on 5/12.

Littell made four appearances between 5/16-22 before the Rays placed him on the 15-day injured list on 5/24 with right shoulder fatigue…completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham from 6/6-11 and was activated on 6/14…has recorded a 3.31 ERA (35.1IP, 13ER) since returning from the IL compared to an 8.10 ERA (3.1IP, 3ER) in four games as a Ray prior to his IL stint.

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