Cubs-Mets Preview

Kyle Hendricks doesn’t overpower hitters, but the Chicago Cubs’ rookie has been effective and efficient while getting his big league career off to a solid start.

He’ll look to win his fourth straight outing Monday as the Cubs seek a split of their four-game series with the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Since allowing four runs in six innings of his major league debut against Cincinnati on July 10, Hendricks (4-1, 1.73 ERA) has posted a 1.01 ERA over five starts while pitching into at least the seventh of each.

The right-hander gave up six hits through 7 1-3 innings of a 3-0 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday.

”Every time I’m going out there I just feel confident that I can make pitches,” said Hendricks, acquired in the July 2012 trade that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas. ”It grows each start, and it’s going to keep growing hopefully.”

Hendricks’ mix of offspeed pitches has helped overcome an average fastball, and he tries to keep hitters off balance by working quickly.

"It’s something I’ve always done, since I was little," he said. "The pace of the game is big for me. It keeps the infielders in the game and keeps them on their toes, and it’s my pitching style."

The Cubs (53-70) have won five of Hendricks’ six starts – the only defeat being a 1-0 loss to St. Louis on July 27 in which he pitched 6 1-3 innings – and hope to continue that trend after ending a three-game skid with Sunday’s 2-1 victory.

Luis Valbuena had an RBI single in the fourth after going 1 for his previous 32, and Starlin Castro – batting .400 over his last 16 – went 2 for 4 with an opposite-field home run in the top of the ninth that proved to be the difference.

”He’s having a very good season and we’re glad to see that,” manager Rick Renteria said of Castro, who has recorded at least a hit in 10 of his 12 career games at Citi Field.

New York (59-66) has dropped four of six on a homestand that ends with this contest. Curtis Grandson’s RBI single tied Sunday’s contest in the eighth for the Mets, who travel to Oakland for a two-game series beginning Tuesday before a three-game road set against the Los Angeles Dodgers starting Friday.

The Mets look to head into that stretch on a positive note with help from Bartolo Colon, who has been solid in his last two starts.

Colon (11-10, 3.85) gave up one run in eight innings of a 5-4 win over Philadelphia on Aug. 8 before allowing two runs – one earned – in seven innings of Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Washington.

The right-hander has pitched at least seven innings in four of his last five starts, needing only 89 pitches to do so in his latest outing.

"Outstanding," manager Terry Collins said after Colon’s start Wednesday. "Threw a lot of zeros up there against a good team. He’s done a good job."

Colon last faced the Cubs while with the Athletics on July 3, 2013 and allowed two runs in seven innings – including a solo homer to Valbuena – in the 3-1 loss. That was his first start against Chicago in more than nine years.