What we're watching – June 8

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– The Rays and Yankees have split the first two games of rain-shortened
three-game series, and Andy Sonnanstine and Andy Pettitte will go in
the deciding game tonight. Sonnanstine is 4-5 with a 7.07 ERA, but he’s
turned in two nice outings in no-decisions against the Bombers this
year, allowing four runs in 12 1/3 innings. Pettitte, who was matched
up against Sonnanstine on April 15, has also faced the Rays twice and
received two no-decisions. He gave up eight runs in 13 1/3 innings
between those two outings. Carlos Pena has owned Pettitte, going
11-for-33 with four homers against the left-hander.

– Scott Feldman, who has picked up victories in each of his last
three starts, will try to improve to 6-0 by beating the Blue Jays. He’s
yet to pitch seven innings in any of his starts, but he’s been getting
great bullpen support, even when the runs haven’t really been there.
Casey Janssen, who is 1-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three starts since joining
Toronto’s rotation, will be the opposing starter. He was solid in his
first two outings, but he needs to bounce back from a poor showing
against the Angels last week in order to guarantee his continued
presence in the rotation.

– Nate McLouth gets to take on his former team just five days after
being sent from the Pirates to the Braves. He’s one of four former
Pirates on the Atlanta roster, which is pretty unusual for a team that
has 13 players either homegrown or at least having never played for
another major league organization. Mike Gonzalez and Jeff Bennett were
both drafted by the Pirates, and David Ross also served a stint in the
organization.

Game of the Night

San Francisco vs. Florida – Just four days after picking up win No.
300, Randy Johnson will go for No. 301 on short rest. He’s allowed
three runs — two earned — in 17 1/3 innings over his last three
starts, and he’s 8-1 with a 1.78 ERA against the Marlins in his career.
The opposing pitcher will be 22-year-old Sean West, who has a 3.31 ERA
in three starts since being called up last month. West is 6-foot-8, so
tonight’s matchup will rank tied for second on the list of tallest
opposing starting pitchers. The matchup between the 6-foot-10 Johnson
and the 6-foot-9 Daniel Cabrera ranks as the biggest. Cabrera versus
fellow 6-foot-9 hurler Mark Hendrickson had stood alone in second.

Matt Carpenter suspended one game for bumping umpire

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Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter has been suspended one game for bumping home plate umpire John Tumpane when he didn’t like a called strike three in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against the Brewers. Manager Mike Matheny was also ejected along with Carpenter.

Carpenter will serve his suspension Tuesday night, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Through his first 69 nice plate appearances this season, Carpenter is hitting .236/.362/.364 with a pair of home runs and five RBI.

Dave Stewart says Diamondbacks’ early success is proof he was good as GM

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After the completion of the 2016 regular season, the Diamondbacks fired then-GM Dave Stewart and then-manager Chip Hale. Stewart acted as GM for two seasons. His most controversial move occurred in December 2015 when he acquired pitcher Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Gabe Speier in exchange for outfielder Ender Inciarte and prospects Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair. After his firing, Stewart blamed his superiors for the trade and said his gut was telling him not to make the trade.

The D-Backs are now led by new GM Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo. The club had a relatively quiet offseason, as its biggest acquisitions were Taijuan Walker and Fernando Rodney. Defying expectations, though, the Diamondbacks enter Tuesday night’s action with a 13-8 record, just a game and a half behind the first-place Rockies. Stewart spoke to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports and said that the D’Backs’ success shows that he knew what he was doing all along.

This means a lot to me because this is the same team, or very close to the one that I put on the field. So basically all of those guys and baseball analysts who said I didn’t know what I was doing, it showed I knew exactly what I was doing.

Everybody was just beat up and not living up to expectations. So all of a sudden, it’s my fault. Well, it’s not my fault. I couldn’t prevent injuries or jump in their bodies to make them pitch better in the starting rotation. We put the right people on the field. So I don’t think anybody should be surprised how well those kids are playing. They’re healthy now. I knew this was going to happen.

Everyone should have seen it coming.

Not to rain on Stewart’s parade, but the Diamondbacks are five games over .500 in a relatively tiny 21-game sample size. Had his team valued analytics during his tenure, he might have known that. Additionally, few of the players performing well for the team right now are players Stewart himself was responsible for bringing to Arizona. Furthermore, the team’s success doesn’t retroactively justify what he gave up for Miller nor does it justify practically giving away Touki Toussaint and signing a 32-year-old Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract.

During and after his tumultuous tenure with the D-Backs, Stewart has appeared very insecure. When he was fired, he quipped, “Quite frankly, I’ve got better things to do.” He appeared on MLB Network Radio in February to deflect any blame directed at him for the team’s failure. And then there’s his most recent quotes in which he heaps praise on himself for the team’s success.

Stewart was an All-Star starter who finished in the top-three in AL Cy Young Award voting three times in his career. He’s understandably competitive and has probably built up a very strong distaste for failure. Sometimes, though, one has to make peace with the fact that things didn’t go one’s way. Stewart simply appears to be tilting at windmills to protect his ego.