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.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.