CHICAGO — Kyle Hendricks' National League Cy Young campaign continues Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Hendricks will make his first start since nearly throwing a no-hitter for the Chicago Cubs in his last start. The National League Central champions are trying to split ar four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, who hit four home runs in an 11-3 victory on Saturday.
The St. Louis Cardinals' Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a leadoff home run in the ninth to end Hendricks' no-hit bid on Monday. The 26-year-old right-hander struck out seven, walked two and now leads the majors with a 2.03 ERA.
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“It's got to catapult him in the minds of people voting (for the Cy Young) right now,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters after the game.
Hendricks (15-7) is 8-1 with a 1.33 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break and 9-1 with a 1.21 ERA at Wrigley this season. In nine career starts against the Brewers, he is 5-2 with a 2.01 ERA — and 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA against them at home.
“He prepares himself better than anybody I've caught in my career,” catcher Miguel Montero told the Chicago Tribune. “And he's got a pretty good idea on the mound.”
Behind Hendricks, teammate Jon Lester is second in the majors in ERA at 2.40. The Mets' Noah Syndergaard is third at 2.43.
The Cubs are expected to start several of their regulars Sunday after playing mostly reserves the last two games with the division title already clinched.
“I was going to give them two days. (Third baseman Kris Bryant) definitely wanted back in (Saturday), so I put him back in there. The other guys were fine with it,” Maddon said. “You're going to see a pretty normal lineup out there (Sunday).”
After becoming the first team in the majors to win a division this season, the Cubs (94-54) are also gunning for the best record in the majors. Entering Saturday night, the Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers had the next-best record at 88-60.
“We want to have the best record in baseball and we want to have home-field advantage throughout (the playoffs),” Maddon said. “Does it matter at the end of the day? We'll find out. Competitively, who you are as an athlete, what you do, you want to be the best.”
For the Brewers, right-hander Wily Peralta (6-10, 5.42 ERA) will start Sunday. He is 4-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 12 career starts against the Cubs.
In Peralta's last start, he allowed three runs Monday against the Cincinnati Reds in his sixth quality start. Peralta is 2-3 with a 3.50 ERA in seven starts since he rejoined the rotation on Aug. 9 for injured Junior Guerra.
Milwaukee (67-82) added outfielder Michael Reed from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday after losing outfielders Keon Broxton (fractured right wrist) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (abdominal strain) on Friday. Nieuwenhuis is expected to be evaluated Monday.
“(Reed has) been more of a corner outfielder type, but he can play center field,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “So we need outfielders, really, and we need bodies.”
The Brewers are 7-11 against the Cubs this season.