The Mets won't have an opportunity for a sweep on Monday afternoon against the Cubs, when the teams wrap up their four-game set. The finale features two pitchers with a 17-year age gap between them.
A series win for New York would provide a redemptive end to a seven-game homestand that began with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals. The Mets will hand the ball to right-hander Carlos Torres, with New York still within in striking distance of a National League Wild Card berth. Torres will be late replacement for veteran Bartolo Colon, who was scheduled to start but instead left the team to be with his ailing mother in the Dominican Republic.
The 31-year-old Torres has started 15 times, out of his 130 big league appearances, and has not started since Sept. 27 of last year. His longest relief outing this year has been 4 2/3 innings, against Texas on July 4.
The Cubs have a combined 18 plate appearances vs. Colon. Luis Valbuena has homered twice in five at-bats (six plate appearances) against the righty.
Chicago will try to even the series behind 24-year-old rookie Kyle Hendricks, who will be making just his seventh career start. He enters the contest with some confidence, coming off of 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers. Part of his success has been a result of observation. The day before his starts, he watches each hitter's at-bats to see what he's trying to do.
"I just try to sear the game plan into my mind by watching a ton of video," Hendricks said. "That way, when I'm on the mound, I don't have to think about, 'What was this guy supposed to do again?' It's just kind of there because I've watched so much video.
"It's studying, for sure. You're looking at the hitters. The scouting report is just a bunch of words. You have to read it and have to be able to retain it. It's fun studying, it's not like school. It's fun sitting there watching hitters. You're watching baseball."
Doing his homework has paid off. Hendricks notched his fifth quality start on Tuesday, and the Cubs have won in six of his seven outings.
Mets: d'Arnaud enjoys anniversary of debut
Travis d'Arnaud celebrated the one-year anniversary of his first Major League game on the bench on Sunday, with backup catcher Anthony Recker getting the start in a day game after a night game. But that didn't stop the rookie from looking back on the whirlwind that's been his past 365 days.
"It flew by," said d'Arnaud, whose last year has included a late-season cup of coffee, questions in Spring Training regarding his offense, two-plus months of struggles at the plate, a demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas, another callup and, most recently, newfound offensive success in the Majors. "It's pretty cool, though, so I'm going to try to soak today in as much as I can."
All that isn't lost on Collins, who noted that while the defensive side of d'Arnaud's game continues to progress, his work at the plate has grown by leaps and bounds since he debuted.
"And I know last year when he came up, [defense and working with the pitchers] was his biggest concentration," Collins said. "This year, he had to work on the offensive side. Now, it's a matter of putting them together."
Cubs: Alcantara getting on-the-job training in center
Arismendy Alcantara has primarily played second base in his career. But right now, the rookie is the Cubs' center fielder and learning how to play there in the big leagues.
Alcantara made his 19th start in center on Sunday in the Cubs' game against the Mets. He made a nice catch on Curtis Granderson's fly ball in the second inning on Saturday, but his error in the Mets' sixth contributed to two runs.
"One of the biggest things we wanted to do is that now that he's here -- and I know it's tough at the Major League level -- but we wanted to give him a look in center, as long as he can play out there," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He had a tough play in center field [on Saturday], coming in -- but he also made a great catch against the wall.
"He's showing signs that there are some good things coming from the defensive end of it in center field, and he's not going to get any better unless he's out there playing it."
• Starlin Castro had his career-high-tying 14-game hitting streak end on Saturday night, but went right back to work on Sunday, hitting the go-ahead home run in the Cubs' 2-1 victory.
• This four-game series at Citi Field represents the Cubs' lone road contests in a 17-game stretch from Aug. 8-24. Additionally, this is the 26th game in a stretch in which Chicago will play 33 games in 34 days -- including 23 of those at home, through Aug. 24.
• Buddy Carlyle extended his scoreless streak to the Mets' bullpen season-high 11 1/3 innings on Saturday night. He has the lowest ERA (0.55) among all pitchers with 15 or more innings.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.