What we're watching – King Felix vs. Wakefield

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– Actually, we’re probably not going to tune in, but surely many will
be watching Manny Ramirez’s return from a 50-game suspension tonight
against the Padres. The disgraced slugger went 3-for-10 with a homer
and three walks in five minor league games.

– Zack Greinke, Kevin Slowey and Tim Wakefield are all possibilities
to become the AL’s first 11-game winner tonight. Greinke has won two in
a row after going 0-2 with two no-decisions in his previous four
starts. He’ll get the White Sox, a team he’s 5-8 with a 4.20 ERA
against in his career. Slowey is coming off his worst start of the year
(5 ER in 3 IP vs. St. Louis). He’ll pitch against a Detroit club that
he beat with six innings of one-run ball back on May 12. He’s 3-0 with
a 4.75 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers. More on Wakefield
in a minute.

– Alfredo Figaro followed up a decent first start with a poor second
outing, so now the Tigers have decided to see if they can catch
lightning in a bottle with 23-year-old Lucas French, who will make his
first major league start against the Twins after going 4-4 with a 2.98
ERA, 71 H and 72/20 K/BB in 81 2/3 IP for Triple-A Toledo. French’s
stuff is below average, but he’s left-handed and throws strikes. If he
can get Twins hitters to offer at his curve, he might have some luck.

Game of the Night

Seattle vs. Boston – Pitchers don’t get a whole lot more different
than Felix Hernandez and Wakefield. Those two will face off as the
Mariners begin a three-game series in Boston. King Felix has been
dominant in his two career starts at Fenway, turning in one of his
three career shutouts and pitching six scoreless innings in the other
outing. He’s 3-1 with a 3.05 ERA in six starts against the Red Sox
overall. Wakefield carries a four-game winning streak and a 6-0 mark at
home this season into the start. He could really use that 11th win
tonight in order to strengthen his bid for making the All-Star team for
the first time in his career. Hernandez is already pretty close to a
lock for the squad.

Diamondbacks fire pitching coach Mike Harkey

Oliver Perez, Mike Harkey
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Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have fired pitching coach Mike Harkey following a season in which the staff ranked ninth among NL teams in runs allowed.

That actually represents a big improvement from last season, when the Diamondbacks allowed the second-most runs in the league in Harkey’s first year as pitching coach, but the Tony La Russa-led front office has decided to make a change.

Prior to joining the Diamondbacks two offseasons ago Harkey served as the Yankees’ bullpen coach from 2008-2013. He pitched eight seasons in the majors.

Nats expected to consider Cal Ripken for the manager job

Cal Ripken Jr

FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Nationals are expected to consider Cal Ripken Jr. for their managerial vacancy. Ripken, of course, was recently reported to have been considered by the club the last time the job was open.

This could be a courtesy. And if you’re a Nats fan, you have to hope it is, right? Because the single biggest argument in favor of Matt Williams when he was hired was that he was a top player in his day, wasn’t too far removed from his playing career and could be a good clubhouse guy who understood what made major leaguers tick. His lack of experience was brushed off. All of which would be the same thing for Ripken, except he doesn’t even have the coaching experience Williams had and is even farther removed from his playing days.

I know he’s famous and everything, but if the Nationals’ 2015 season is evidence of anything, perhaps it should be evidence that sometimes it’s useful to have a manager who has actually, you know, made a pitching change once in his professional life.