CHICAGO -- Talented rookie Kyle Hendricks will go for his fifth straight quality start, and first win over a National League Central foe, in Tuesday's tilt with the Brewers.
Hendricks has quietly emerged as the Cubs' No. 2 starter since the All-Star break with three wins and a loss -- the loss a 1-0 contest against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright on July 27. Hendricks held the Rockies and Dodgers, two of the NL's four most productive offenses, to a combined three runs over 15 innings during his last two starts.
If not for the July 4 trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, Hendricks might still be pitching in the Minors.
"The results have been awesome," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "Anybody would take what he's been doing and take it gladly. Should I be surprised? Probably not, because I think that how he was going about his business in the Minor Leagues is basically reflective of what he's doing here."
Milwaukee's Wily Peralta will go for a league-leading 15th win that would snap a tie with Clayton Kershaw and a pair of NL Central pitchers, Johnny Cueto and Wainwright. Wainwright is scheduled to start on Tuesday against Miami.
Peralta boasts a 1.64 ERA and 24 strikeouts over his last five starts -- all of them wins. He's coming off a nine-K, 115-pitch -- both season highs -- outing against the Giants in which he allowed seven hits but just one earned run.
"There's a lot of great starting pitchers out there, and to be able to be leading the league, that's amazing, a great feeling," Peralta said after his most recent start. "That's a thing that I've been working hard [for] in the offseason and been working hard in the season to be on top."
Cubs: Chicago in middle of most competitive slate
Renteria is a believer that strong finishes can lead to a sustained morale boost through the offseason. The Cubs find themselves in arguably their toughest slate en route to season's end.
Of the Cubs' final 14 series, including this week's against the Brewers, the only one against a team that isn't in a pennant race is this weekend's four-game set against the Mets, who sit six games out of the second NL Wild Card spot.
"It's much nicer to go through a season and finish strong. At that point guys don't want to stop playing," Renteria said. "I remember being in a lot of different situations where maybe you weren't in a pennant race, but when you're playing well, you don't want the season to end."
Renteria added that the slate of formidable competition could prove beneficial to his young roster, which includes four everyday starters 25 or younger.
"We're not thrust into the pennant race other than by through osmosis -- kind of playing these other clubs, which is a good thing, though," Renteria said. "[The young players] can see what other clubs are doing that make them good -- How do they run the bases, how do they play defense, how do they pitch, what are the things that put them where they're at?"
Brewers: Milwaukee mindful of new-look Cubs
The last two Cubs starters the Brewers faced before Monday's 3-1 win were Hammel and Samardzija on May 31 and June 1, respectively.
Hendricks and Wednesday's starter, Tsuyoshi Wada, were still with Triple-A Iowa during the previous matchup, as were Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara, now everyday starters.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says that competition against younger talent is "always dangerous."
"That's why I say we never take any teams lightly. Whenever you do, you don't win the game. It's pretty simple," Roenicke said.
During Spring Training, Baez belted a mammoth homer against Milwaukee, and Roenicke said it was one of the longest he'd seen at the Brewers' preseason complex. Baez went 1-for-4 on Monday with a double.
"He's got tremendous power," Roenicke said. "He's swinging hard every pitch. We've got to be careful with him."
• Anthony Rizzo's season-high streak without a home run extended to 21 days after the Cubs' loss on Monday. Rizzo last homered against the Padres on July 22, belting two to take a then-NL lead with 25. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Monday.
• Francisco Rodriguez earned his Major League-leading 36th save on Monday.
Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.