Paul Maholm pitches third career shutout to beat Cubs

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The big surprise here is that neither of his previous shutouts came against the Cubs.

Veteran left-hander Paul Maholm pitched a three-hitter Saturday as the Pirates won 10-0 at Wrigley Field.  He struck out four and walked none in the 91-pitch gem.

Ronny Cedeno, Lyle Overbay, Chris Snyder and Andrew McCutchen all went deep in the game.

It was just the second win of the year for Maholm.  He leads the NL with seven losses despite an ERA that dropped from 3.65 to 3.18 today.

The Pirates gave some thought to trading Maholm last year, but it would have been a case of selling low.  He had his worst year as a big leaguer in 2010, going 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA.

Now that he appears on his way to maybe his best or his second-best season (he had a 3.71 ERA and a nice 1.28 WHIP in 206 1/3 innings in 2008), he could bring a couple of quality prospects in return this summer.  The Pirates are also in better position to move him, considering that they’d still have three-fifths of a decent rotation in place with Kevin Correia, Charlie Morton and James McDonald.

But before giving away their players again, we might as well let the Pirates enjoy this one.  They’re back up to 24-26 on the season, and they’ll have a chance to go for a sweep in Chicago when Jeff Karstens faces Ryan Dempster on Sunday.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.