Lance Lynn opens 5-0 for second straight season

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Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn beat the Reds on Wednesday to become the NL’s first five-game winner this year. In so doing, he started a second straight season 5-0.

The 25-year-old Lynn is the fifth pitcher in 2000 to start back-to-back seasons 5-0. Pedro Martinez actually did it three straight years:

Martinez: 5-0 in 2000, 6-0 in 2001, 7-0 in 2002
Brandon Webb: 6-0 in 2005, 8-0 in 2006
Joe Saunders: 6-0 in 2007, 6-0 in 2008
Jered Weaver: 6-0 in 2011, 5-0 in 2012

Martinez went on to accomplish the feat again in 2006 and 2009. No other pitcher has had more than three 5-0 starts since 2000.

Lynn took his first loss of last season to the Braves on May 13. His 2012 start was clearly stronger than this one, as he was 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA after six starts then, compared to 5-0 with a 2.75 ERA after six starts now. Still, his early performance has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals; after losing 40 pounds over the winter, he admitted that he was struggling to adapt to his new body this spring.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.