The Rockies and the Rays wrap up a three-game series on Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Reliever-turned-starter Peter Lambert makes his 8th start of the season for Colorado, while the Rays are expected to use Erasmo Ramírez as an opener today (unconfirmed as of this writing).
The Rays are the betting favorites at -225 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at 8.5 runs. The prediction here is that the Rays win and the over hits.
Rockies vs. Rays Prediction
Starting pitchers: RHP Peter Lambert (3-4, 5.02 ERA) vs. RHP Erasmo Ramírez (2-3, 6.33 ERA)
After a pitiful month of July, the Rays appear to have righted the ship in August. They are back to playing better than .600 ball and their bats have come alive again.
Tampa scored a whopping 30 runs in their last two games (before Wednesday night’s contest) and are 4th in the league in offense this month. Rookie shortstop Osleivis Basabe has filled in admirably for Wander Franco, the Rays’ controversial star who is on administrative leave amid multiple investigations into alleged inappropriate relationships in his native Dominican Republic.
While their offense has bounced back from their dreadful performance in July, when they were 29th in the league in runs, their starting rotation is still struggling with multiple injuries. Tampa has not officially announced a starting pitcher for this game as of this writing, but they are expected to use reliever Erasmo Ramírez as an opener with hopes of getting at least 3 innings out of him.
Ramírez was released by the Nationals on June 8 after struggling to a 6.33 ERA in 23 appearances, and he has not been much better since re-joining the Rays (with whom he played from 2015-2017). In 6 appearances (15-2/3 innings) including 2 starts, he h as a 6.32 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. His most recent outing was his worst, as he allowed 5 runs on 5 hits in 3-1/3 innings against the Angels.
Colorado does not pose a huge threat offensively, especially since shipping out C.J. Cron and Randal Grichuk at the trade deadline. While they have managed to score 4.7 runs per game, slightly up from their season average of 4.41, they are still woefully unproductive it comes to advanced metrics like wRC+.
That is an important metric for the Rockies considering it incorporates ballpark factors, and Colorado plays in the extremely hitter-friendly Coors Field. The Rockies are dead last this season with a 79 wRC+, and have remained just 27th in August.
Tampa can afford for Ramírez to give up some runs as long as he can get through a few innings and give some relief to the rest of the bullpen. Their offense should be expected to score on Rockies starter Peter Lambert.
Lambert moved from the bullpen to the rotation on July 1 and has made 7 starts this season. He has a 3.34 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP as a starter and is coming off a season-high 7-inning performance last time out. Those are very respectable numbers, but not enough to inspire a ton of confidence against this surging Rays lineup.
The Rockies may have a slight edge on the mound to start the game, but the smart money here is still on the Rays, even at the unappealing -225 moneyline odds. We have enough confidence in that pick to instead take -1.5 run spread to get the more favorable -108 odds. Without much confidence in either starting pitcher, we also like the over on 8.5 runs at -110.
Rockies vs. Rays Prediction: Rays -1.5 (-108), over 8.5 runs (-110)
Note: all metrics above taken before Wednesday’s games
Rockies vs. Rays Odds
The Rays are heavy favorites with -225 moneyline odds, while the Rockies are at +185 on the moneyline.
The Rays are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at -108 odds, while the Rockies are getting +1.5 runs at -112 odds.
The over/under in this game is set at 8.5 runs with -110 odds on both the over and on the under.
Rockies vs. Rays Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Rockies vs. Rays.
Peter Lambert vs. Yandy Díaz
The Rays’ offense was the biggest factor in the Rays moneyline pick in our Rockies vs. Rays prediction, and Yandy Díaz is the straw that stirs the Rays’ drink, especially with Franco out.
Not only is Díaz the Rays’ best hitter (sans Franco), but he is also their best bat against righties. Díaz has been better against lefties in his career, but he is slightly better against righties this season, hitting .331 with a .911 OPS.
Besides Díaz, Harold Ramírez has been the Rays’ best hitter since Franco left the team. He is leading the team with a .483 average and a 1.105 OPS over those 8 eight games.
Lambert’s ability to limit the production of Díaz and Ramírez will be a big factor in the outcome of this game.
With the Rays using Erasmo Ramírez as an opener in this game, their bullpen performance will be critical to coming away with a W. The rest of their relief staff will need to pitch at least 6 innings.
Tampa’s bullpen has been solid for most of the season with a 4.00 ERA (14th) and .300 wOBA (10th), but so far in August they have a 4.85 ERA. That can partly be attributed to the number of innings they have been asked to pitch, but any way you look at it, the bullpen has not been as strong lately as it was for most of the season.
They should still have an advantage over Colorado, which has a whopping 5.14 bullpen ERA this season (27th) that has ballooned to 7.79 (30th) this month.
The bullpen advantage is another reason to pick the Rays today.
Rockies vs. Rays Starting Lineups (Projected)
Rockies Starting Lineup
RF Charlie Blackmon (L)
SS Ezequiel Tovar (R)
3B Ryan McMahon (L)
2B Brendan Rogers (R)
LF Nolan Jones (L)
C Elias Diaz (R)
DH Jurickson Profar (S)
1B Elehuris Montero (R)
CF Brenton Doyle (R)
Rays Starting Lineup
1B Yandy Diaz (R)
2B Brandon Lowe (L)
LF Randy Arozarena (R)
DH Harold Ramirez (R)
CF Luke Raley (L)
3B Isaac Paredes (R)
RF Josh Lowe (R)
SS Osleivis Basabe (R)
C Christian Bethancourt (R)