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.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.