Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn is the first starter to four wins this season

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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.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.