Colorado Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron (25) in the ninth inning of a baseball game on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Denver. The Rockies won 6-5 behind Cron’s walkoff, solo home run. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
- The Nationals are -125 home favorites over the Rockies on Sunday
- The Rockies’ Jon Gray (8-10, 4.16) will pitch against Paolo Espino (4-5, 4.18)
- Odds and analysis can be found below along with a prediction
The Colorado Rockies look to conclude their most successful road trip of the season on a good note when they meet the Washington Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday in the finale of a three-game series at Nationals Park.
The Rockies (70-78) have won seven of eight games on the trip, including their last five in a row. Colorado had been 18-50 away from home prior to the trip.
The Nationals (60-88) are on a three-game losing streak and have dropped seven of their last nine while sinking deeper into the National League East basement. They are favored Sunday, though.
Rockies vs Nationals Odds
|Colorado Rockies||+105||+1.5 (-190)||Over 9 (-115)|
|Washington Nationals||-125||-1.5 (+160)||Under 9 (-105)|
Odds as of September 18th at DraftKings.
The Nationals opened as -120 favorites on the moneyline and that gone up slightly. Weather should not be a factor as the forecast calls for sunny and a high of 84 degrees with a 7-mph wind from the north.
Jon Gray (8-10, 4.16) gets the call for the Rockies and Paolo Espino (4-5, 4.18) will start for the Nationals.
It will be Gray’s third start since being on the injured list from Aug. 29-Sept. 7 with right forearm tightness. He is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in his last three outings after losing four starts in a row.
Gray vs Espino
Gray won his last start Monday against the Braves at Atlanta. He limited the National League East leaders to two runs and five hits in five innings while striking out seven and walking two.
Jon Gray’s 7 strikeouts pic.twitter.com/Iq8mzkpG3I
— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) September 15, 2021
Of his 26 starts this season, 10 have been quality but Gray has gone six straight turns without a QS. Gray has had at least seven strikeouts in 10 starts and the Rockies have a 10-16 record when he pitches.
Gray has a 3-6 road record and a 4.60 ERA in 13 starts this season. In day games, though, he is 5-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 14 starts.
The Nationals have given Gray plenty of trouble as he has a 0-3 career record against them and a 7.15 ERA. He is 0-2 with a 4.86 ERA in three starts at Nationals Park.
Espino has made 16 starts and 16 relief appearances this season but has had 11 consecutive turns through the rotation since July 20. He is 1-3 with a 6.06 ERA in his last eight games.
Paolo Espino, 90mph Fastball…and Sword.🐻❄️⚔️
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 28, 2021
Espino took a tough loss Monday against the Miami Marlins when he surrendered only one run and six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and three walks. It was Espino’s first quality start of 2021.
The Nationals are 5-11 when Espino starts this season, and he has gone 3-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 16 games (10 starts) at home. He has a 1-2 record in the day with a 4.86 ERA in 11 games (seven starts).
This will be Espino’s first career appearance against the Rockies.
This could be a spot for Nationals backup infielder Jordy Mercer to get into the starting lineup. He is 3 for 6 with two doubles against Gray.
Catcher Elias Diaz is the only Rockies hitter to have faced Espino in the major league and that is only one plate appearance.
Batting Average vs Starting Pitchers
|Rockies Batters||Batting Average vs Espino|
|Nationals Batters||Batting Average vs Gray|
Though the Nationals are not playing well, they have some hot hitters, including right fielder Juan Soto.
Soto is hitting .514 (19 for 37) in his last 11 games with two doubles, one home run, five RBIs, 12 walks and nine runs scored. He has also gone 31 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout.
Juan Soto has posted a .500 OBP over his last 74 games. Only others to do that since Bonds are Trout and Votto. pic.twitter.com/yBUqjBSJy9
— Codify, Inc. (@CodifyBaseball) September 16, 2021
In his last 24 games, first baseman Josh Bell has a .315 batting average (28 for 89) with five doubles, eight homers, 18 RBIs, 19 walks and 11 runs scored. Center fielder Lane Thomas is hitting .304 (24 of 79) over his last 19 games with four doubles, one triple, five home runs, 18 RBIs, 12 walks and 18 runs scored.
The Rockies look to sweep the first series between the teams since 2019 and are rolling. The Rockies notched a 6-0 win Saturday behind a three-run home run by shortstop Trevor Story and a two-run blast by second baseman Brendan Rodgers.
You can find this Story at the Library of Congress.
It landed in the Main Reading Room for your enjoyment📚 pic.twitter.com/6SSycyIJor
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 18, 2021
However, Gray’s awful record against the Rockies makes fading him the play in this game.
The Pick: Nationals -125
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.