CHICAGO -- Advice is the last thing that Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon plans to offer right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
Hendricks (12-7, 2.19 ERA) is among baseball's hottest pitchers during the past two-plus months with a 8-1 record and a 1.38 ERA in his last 13 outings (12 starts).
And Maddon is not about to mess with success as Hendricks prepare to start Tuesday's middle matchup in a three-game set at Wrigley Field.
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"I really try to avoid those conversations because I could just mess him up," Maddon said before Monday night's series opener. "Guys like Kyle that are going that well, I'm just there to reinforce. After he comes out of the game, I'll encourage him, tell him how wonderful he was, how well he did.
"If he wants to bring something up to me, that's fine. But I really think that you can only hurt somebody by trying to interject these words of wisdom to a guy that's going as well as he is."
Hendricks faces Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (3-1, 3.50 ERA) on Tuesday. The start will be Hendricks' sixth against Pittsburgh during his career and second this season. He's 1-1 with a 5.40 career ERA, with the win coming June 19 as the Cubs claimed a 6-3 victory.
Now in his third season, the 26-year-old Hendricks has already blown past win totals from previous years. With as many as seven starts still to come, he's on track for as many as a half-dozen more wins if current trends hold.
His 2.19 ERA is the lowest in baseball, well ahead of San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner (2.49 ERA). Hendricks has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last 17 starts dating to May 22, the longest streak by any big league pitcher this year.
Kuhl, 23, is set to make his ninth major league start and second against Chicago. He allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings had had no decision in the Pirates' 6-5 loss to the Cubs on July 10 in the final game before the All-Star break.
Kuhl struggled in his first three starts with a 6.03 ERA but improved in his next five, producing a 2.37 ERA and more efficient fastball location.
Kuhl also had no decision in his last start last Thursday. He gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings in Pittsburgh's 3-2, 10-inning win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. The Pirates have won seven of his first eight starts.
A 2013 draft pick, Kuhl has worked his way up from short Class A to Triple-A Indianapolis in three seasons before a call-up to the Pirates earlier this season.
"I had this belief in myself," Kuhl told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "That's all me and my family ever wanted was a shot. I got my shot."