What we're watching – June 2

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– The only five-game winner to start Monday was Todd Wellemeyer.
Tonight, we get aces Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Dan
Haren and Jake Peavy, along with Erik Bedard, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rick
Porcello, A.J. Burnett, Ubaldo Jimenez and Joe Saunders. Plus, there
are seven-game winners Kevin Slowey and Bronson Arroyo, as well as Zach
Duke, Randy Wolf, Randy Wells and their sub-3.00 ERAs. In other words,
it’s a good night for pitching.

– Unfortunately, that’s going to make it hard to watch the two
starters making their major league debuts: Oakland’s Vin Mazzaro and
Philadelphia’s Antonio Bastardo. Mazzaro, 22, had a 2.38 ERA, 42 hits
allowed and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 56 2/3 innings for Sacramento. I
suspect that he’ll be a long-term reliever, but he’s worth watching as
a starter with his low-90s fastball and slider.

Seeing Bastardo get the nod over Andrew Carpenter in Brett Myers’
place was a pleasant surprise. The 23-year-old lefty is hardly a sure
thing, but he has a very good changeup to complement an average
fastball. He had a 1.89 ERA and a 51/10 K/BB in 47 2/3 innings between
Double- and Triple-A to start the year.

– The AL’s only two teams with 30 wins will begin another series
tonight. This one will take place in New York after the Yankees won two
out of three in Texas least week. Vicente Padilla will return from the
DL to start for the Rangers. A.J. Burnett will get the ball for the
Yankees. Both right-handers have identical 3-2 records and ERAs in the
4.70s. Mark Teixeira will get another crack at his old team agter going
5-for-14 with two homers and five RBI in the series last week.

Game of the Night

Boston vs. Detroit – Matsuzaka, an 18-game winner last year,
searches again for his first victory of 2009 after giving up seven runs
over 10 innings in his first two starts back from the DL. The Tigers
will counter with Porcello, who has won five straight and lowered his
ERA from 6.23 to 3.48 in the process. As impressive as Porcello has
been, he’s mostly beaten up on weak teams. In his three starts against
the AL’s top five offenses, he’s 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA.

Braves’ Markakis misses game because of family emergency

Nick Markakis, Nick Swisher
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NEW YORK (AP) Braves right fielder Nick Markakis has left the team because of a family emergency.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said before Wednesday’s game against the Mets that Markakis had headed home to Maryland. The veteran is expected to be back in time for Friday’s home game against Arizona. Atlanta is off Thursday.

Chase d’Arnaud is starting in right field and Mallex Smith is leading off Wednesday.

Markakis is hitting .281 with no home runs and 20 RBIs.

Report: more major league PED suspensions coming soon

FILE - In this May 30, 2007 file photo a blister with the steroid Oral-Turinabol is displayed in Dresden, eastern Germany. Oral-Turinabol was the main drug in the state-controlled doping in former East Germany.    (AP Photo/Matthias Rietschel, file)
Associated Press
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T.J. Quinn of ESPN’s Outside the Lines reports that another major leaguer — or possibly several of them — will soon be suspended for PEDs. He says that, as was the case with Chris Colabello and others recently, the drug will be Turinabol, which is an old school anabolic steroid. Quinn says that improved testing procedures, which he details in the article, are a likely reason for the spike in Turinabol positives, though it’s also possible that there is a tainted supplement being taken, though he deems that speculative.

What isn’t mentioned is . . . how an ESPN reporter knows a positive test is coming when the drug testing program is supposed to be confidential. Someone with the league or the union must be telling him, right? That’s sort of messed up, no? Will MLB investigate who is leaking such things?

Whatever the case, we’ll soon have a new police blotter item, it seems.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s afternoon action

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez gives a thumbs-up as he is pulled from the team's baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in the eighth inning, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Seattle. The Mariners won 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Wednesday usually means day baseball and today we have seven games on tap before the cocktail hour. Well, before most people’s cocktail hour. Do what you want but some of us have fewer hangups about such things. Working at home is amazing, you guys.

The most notable thing of today’s pitching matchups is that, because of staggered days off, skipped starts and stuff, we’re finally out of that lockstep, early-season thing in which aces face aces all the time. That’s fun and everything — it’s great for the fans — but I bet it annoys the pitchers to some degree. Felix Hernandez vs. Sonny Gray is a marquee matchup. But I bet Felix is happy to be facing Sean Manaea in his second-ever big league start as opposed to a dude who might match zeros with him. Ohio State schedules MAC schools for many of the same reasons.

Anyway, here are the matchups. Skip work, tell your boss you’ve gotta see a guy about a thing and watch baseball. In your heart you know it’s the right thing to do:

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Juan Nicasio), 12:35 PM EDT, PNC Park;

San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 12:35 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Atlanta Braves (Jhoulys Chacin) @ New York Mets (Steven Matz), 1:10 PM EDT, Citi Field

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Zach Davies), 1:40 PM EDT, Miller Park

Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg) @ Kansas City Royals (Kris Medlen), 2:15 PM EDT, Kauffman Stadium

Seattle Mariners (Felix Hernandez) @ Oakland Athletics (Alex Manaea), 3:35 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ San Diego Padres (Cesar Vargas), 3:40 PM EDT, Petco Park

Is Bud Black the favorite to be the next Braves manager?

Bud Black
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We talked last week about how Fredi Gonzalez is likely a dead man walking as the Braves manager. They stink, he’s a lame duck and part of the team’s whole marketing thrust is “2017 will be a new beginning,” what with the new ballpark and all. It stands to reason that Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t have long for this world.

Last week I suspected he’d be fired tomorrow, the Braves off day before a home stand. They’ve won in the past week, but it still wouldn’t shock me. Even if firing Gonzalez would be an act of scapegoating. It’s the roster that’s the problem, not the manager, even though Fredi doesn’t exactly inspire anyone.

Today Bob Nightengale throws this into the mix:

As of yet he hasn’t followed that up with an actual column or more tweets about who, exactly, considers Black to be the heavy favorite, but there’s a definitiveness to that which makes me think he’s heard something solid.

Black, as you know, was the long time Padres manager who had an unsuccessful flirtation with the Nationals before they hired Dusty Baker this past offseason. Black is now cooling his heels with his longtime boss Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, in what is clearly a “wait for his next managing opportunity” posture.

Could it be in Atlanta? At least one national writer and some nebulous group of insiders believe so, it would seem.