Trying to hit a ball over Siri’s head? Yeah, good luck with that one! (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After a successful 4-2 road trip out west, capped by a series win against the Angels, the Tampa Bay Rays return home to the friendly confines of the Trop, where they start a three-game set against the Rockies on Tuesday. Colorado, most recently, took two of three from the White Sox.

At 75-51 on the season, the Rays enter play 24 games above .500 with 36 games left to play.

Tampa Bay has taken hit after hit this season after its best start in franchise history. Since then, they have lost three of the original starting rotation members to season-ending injuries — the latest being left-hander Shane McClanahan, who was one of the favorites to win the AL Cy Young award. The Rays are also dealing with some off-the-field issues with Wander Franco that could keep him out indefinitely. Even so, they continue to survive. On Sunday, the Rays pounded the Angels for 18 runs on 20 hits including three home runs en route to their sixth win in 10 tries, and their ninth win in 15 tries. Over the last seven days, Tampa Bay’s offense has performed to a sizzling .331 BA/.398 OBP/.508 SLG/.906 OPS with a 157 wRC+, and a 15.8 wRAA.

The Rays continue to slip out of their July funk, although if they want to catch up to the Orioles, they are going to need to rattle off a winning streak. Enter the Rockies.

Colorado has moved on following the trade deadline, although those who remain on the roster are not ready to roll over for the rest of the season. Over the weekend, the Rockies pounded the White Sox for 30 runs (25 in the first two contests). Still, they fell short in the series. Charlie Blackmon had a good afternoon with two hits, including a double and a home run. Like the Rays, they have put up fantastic numbers over the last seven days, slashing a .315 SLG/.393 OBP/.553 SLG/.946 OPS line, with a 141 wRC+, and a 17.3 wRAA. Be that as it may, the Rockies have been subpar away from Coors Field, where the ball flies, slashing .230 BA/.291 OBP/.365 SLG/.656 OPS, with a 77 wRC+. Look for Rays’ hurlers to try to take advantage of the road-weary club from Denver.

The Rays enter play with an overall 3.89 ERA and 3.89 FIP (3.77 ERA and 3.55 FIP for the starters, 4.03 ERA, and 4.29 FIP for the relievers). Over the last seven days, Tampa Bay improved (over the previous week) to a combined 3.91 ERA and 3.66 FIP (3.82 ERA and 3.51 FIP for the starters, 4.05 ERA and a 3.92 FIP for the relievers).

Meanwhile, the Rockies’ pitching staff is clearly the team’s Achilles heel, pitching to an overall 5.53 ERA and 5.17 FIP (5.95 ERA and 5.72 FIP for the starters, 5.02 ERA, and 4.53 FIP for the relievers). They’ve regressed over their season numbers the last seven days, pitching to a combined 5.83 ERA and a 4.75 FIP (4.72 ERA and a 4.40 FIP for the starters, 7.78 ERA and a 5.35 FIP for the relievers).

The Rays went 2-1 against the Rockies in 2019, the last time these two squared off, with a +9 run differential.

Pitching Probables

Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will call on Zack Littell (2-4, 3.99 ERA, 3.47 FIP), Aaron Civale (6-3, 2.44 ERA, 2.22 FIP), and a pitcher (or pitchers) to be named before the finale. Bud Black will counter with Ty Blach (1-1, 4.14 ERA, 5.02 FIP), Austin Gomber (9-9, 5.52 ERA, 5.27 FIP), and Peter Lambert (3-4, 5.02 ERA, 5.35 FIP).

Zack Littell allowed two runs on three hits (including a homer) and struck out five without walking a batter over 5.2 innings, taking the loss Tuesday versus the Giants. Littell came up an out short of a quality start against his former team. This was his fourth consecutive turn as a traditional starter, and he’s allowed just seven runs across 22.2 innings in that span. The right-hander owns a 3.99 ERA and a 3.47 FIP, with a 1.23 WHIP, and a 6.83 K/BB through 47.1 innings over 20 appearances (seven starts).

Ty Blach allowed two runs on six hits and two walks over five innings against the Diamondbacks. He struck out two. Blach managed to escape Tuesday’s home start in fair condition, with all of the damage against him coming via a third-inning two-run homer by Christian Walker. Blach has been a reliable arm for the Rockies since entering the rotation and owns a 3.05 ERA with a 1.33 K/BB over his last four outings (20.2 innings). He relies primarily on a 90 mph fourseam fastball that has heavy sinking action and an 80 mph changeup that dives down and out of the zone, while also mixing in an 85 mph 12-6 slider, and an 80 mph 12-6 curveball.

Aaron Civale allowed no runs on five scattered hits and a walk over six scoreless frames against the Giants. He struck out five. It was the first win for Civale since he was traded from Cleveland, and is now 1-1 through his first three starts with Tampa Bay while allowing five runs over 15.1 innings. Overall, Civale’s ERA is down to 2.44, with a 2.22 FIP, a 1.12 WHIP, and 2.88 K/BB across 16 starts (92.1 innings) between the Rays and Guardians.

Austin Gomber allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks over 5.1 innings against the Diamondbacks. He struck out one. After surrendering up a first-inning two-run home run to Christian Walker, Gomber seemed to find his groove until he fell apart in the sixth, walking three of the first five batters he faced reached base while also surrendering two hits, which lead to four more runs crossing the plate for Arizona. He’s now given up at least six hits in seven straight starts. He’s also issued three walks in two of his last three outings, and the six runs were the most he’s allowed since June 9 against the Padres. All told, Gomber maintains a 5.52 ERA and a 5.27 FIP, with a 1.47 WHIP, and a 2.10 K/BB over 130.1 innings on the season. He relies primarily on a 91 mph fourseam fastball, while also mixing in a hard 85 mph slider that has short glove-side cut, an 82 mph changeup that has surprising cut action, and a 78 mph curveball that has sharp downward bite and glove-side movement.


Peter Lambert surrendered one run on four hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out five on Friday against the White Sox. Lambert served up a leadoff homer to Elvis Andrus in the first inning but settled in for an impressive performance. It was Lambert’s longest outing of the season and his first time punching out at least five batters since May 13. He lowered his season ERA to 5.02, with a 5.35 FIP, a 2.33 K/BB through 66.1 frames. Lambert relies primarily on a 93 mph fourseam fastball that has some natural sinking action, an 86 mph slider that has short glove-side cut, and an 86 mph changeup that has natural sinking action. Key Matchup: Harold Ramirez (2-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB)