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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.