Just as everyone predicted, right?
Lance Lynn, who was competing just to make the Cardinals as a middle reliever before Chris Carpenter got hurt this spring, won his fourth straight start Thursday by pitching eight innings of one-run ball against the Cubs.
Lynn has allowed exactly one run in each of his four starts to date, giving him a 1.33 ERA.
A 2008 supplemental first-round pick, Lynn wasn’t looked at as having a very high ceiling during his time in the minors. In ranking him the Cardinals’ No. 7 prospect this season, Baseball America stated, “As a minor league starter, Lynn mixed a darting 88-92 mph sinker, a curveball that could get loopy and a so-so changeup,” before noting that his velocity did improve in a relief stint. The nice surprise is that Lynn has held on to those velocity gains since moving back to the rotation. He’s averaging 92.4 mph with his fastball this year, which puts him in the top 25 or so percent of major league starters.
Lynn still isn’t this good. His changeup definitely needs work, and his slider isn’t an a big weapon as a third pitch either. Still, I think he’s a legit No. 3 for the Cardinals, and he has a real chance now at 15 wins, assuming the team can find room for him in the rotation after Carpenter returns.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.