Two teams sitting in different places in the playoff picture will meet at Coors Field on Tuesday, as the surging Royals visit the spiraling Rockies to open up a two-game set.
Colorado is in last place in the National League West and recently learned stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez won't be returning this season, while the Royals have leapfrogged Detroit in the American League Central and seem poised to break the Major Leagues' longest postseason drought.
At this point, the Rockies are looking to see what useful young pieces they have -- and Tuesday's starter, Tyler Matzek, could be one of them.
The rookie set a season high with nine strikeouts in his last outing against San Diego, but gave up five runs on eight hits in six innings.
Still, it felt like progress for the young southpaw.
"I felt really good, felt like I was hitting my spots," Matzek said. "The first inning was a little rough [three hits and a walk], but after that, I settled in. I had good control of the slider today."
The Royals, meanwhile, will send their most battle-tested veteran to the mound in James Shields.
Despite facing San Francisco and Oakland twice in his first three outings this month, Shields is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in 23 innings in August.
This season, the right-hander has provided exactly the sort of steady veteran presence that the Royals hoped he would when they acquired him before last season. He ranks in the top 20 in the AL in ERA (3.29), WHIP (1.21), strikeouts (137) and innings pitched (172 1/3).
Royals: Cain due back in starting lineup
Lorenzo Cain didn't start the series finale at Minnesota as manager Ned Yost opted for Jarrod Dyson in center field. Cain did enter as a defensive replacement for Nori Aoki in the seventh inning of Monday's 6-4 victory.
But Cain, a right-handed hitter, is expected to be in the lineup in this series as the Rockies start two left-handers in Matzek and Jorge De La Rosa.
"It keeps everybody going out there. Gives Dyson a chance. We've got two lefties and we'll get Lorenzo back in there at Colorado," Yost said.
But Yost indicated that he's liked what the left-handed-hitting Dyson has done lately against lefties.
"What's really impressive to me is he's starting to swing better against left-handed pitchers," Yost said.
Rockies: Dickerson named NL Player of Week
Corey Dickerson, who enters this series on a 12-game hitting streak, became the fourth Rockies player this season to be named the National League Player of the Week on Monday. He led the Majors in RBIs and total bases over the past week.
Over seven games, the left fielder hit .393 (11-for-28) with four doubles, three homers, 11 RBIs, six runs scored and 24 total bases. He led the league in doubles and homers.
"I'm just doing the same thing every day," Dickerson said Sunday. "Having the confidence every day no matter who is pitching. I'm keeping my approach, staying aggressive and not giving up my at-bat, whether it's early or late in games or whether we're behind or ahead."
Charlie Blackmon, Justin Morneau, Tulowitzki and Dickerson make up the Colorado foursome to receive the honor this season. It was the first of Dickerson's career.
• Kansas City has the AL's best record in Interleague Play at 14-4, including a two-game sweep of Colorado at Kauffman Stadium.
• The Royals have no opponents left on their schedule that hold a better record than theirs.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.