MILWAUKEE -- The Chicago Cubs have been steamrolling their way to the National League Central crown and Kyle Hendricks has been leading leaded the charge.
Hendricks hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last 18 starts, posting a 1.60 ERA during that stretch with 102 strikeouts in 118 innings of work, lowering his ERA to a National League best 2.09 in the process.
"It has to be Cy Young contention," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after Hendricks' last start, when he tossed seven shutout innings and led Chicago to a 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh. "Put the radar gun in your back pocket and look at what he's doing. That has to be strong consideration."
Even Hendricks' teammates have been impressed by his recent run.
"Everyone is throwing 90 mph plus, but he's just doing his thing," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said.
He's faced Milwaukee twice this season, going 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA. In eight career starts against the Brewers, Hendricks is 4-2 with q 2.08 ERA including a 2-1 mark and 1.90 ERA in four starts at Miller Park.
The Cubs could use another long outing from Hendricks after playing 13 innings Sunday in a 13-inning victory over the Giants at Wrigley Field.
Chicago's league-leading rotation has been given a bit of a break over the final month, as manager Joe Maddon has turned to a six-man rotation.
"Right now, throughout the industry you're hearing about fatigue and people being skipped and all that stuff," Maddon said. "Right now our starters are pitching as well as they have all year. I would like to think if we continue along this path we'll keep that freshness about them."
Milwaukee will turn to right-hander Zach Davies, who's emerged as a staff ace this season. The rookie comes into the game 10-6 with a 4.07 ERA -- a number that was inflated by a brief slump earlier this month.
Still, Davies has gone 5-2 with a 3.88 over his last 10 starts.
Home runs from Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong hurt Davies his last time out, when he held the Cardinals to three runs and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Cardinals.
"I thought Zach pitched well," Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The home run to Wong was probably the pitch that he would like to have back. The pitch to Gyorko was a good pitch. The first run they got, maybe we could avoid that by executing the run down better. But Zach pitched well, he pitched really well."
The Cubs, winners of 15 of their last 20, have won five straight against the Brewers including a four-game sweep last month at Wrigley Field. Chicago leads the overall series, 9-3, this year and are 34-16 against their NL Central rivals since the start of the 2014 season.
Milwaukee is coming off a three-game sweep of the Pirates but had lost 12 of 17 prior to its successful trip to Pittsburgh.