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.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.