Mon Jul 15 2:32am ET
The Chicago Cubs look like a different team since returning from the All-Star break.
Manager Joe Maddon has a simple explanation for that.
"It's rest," Maddon told reporters after the Cubs finished a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. "I mean, people don't want to listen to that because it's way too simple. It's a simple concept. If you're more rested, you tend to do what you do better. If you're not, you tend to do it not as good.
"They don't let pilots fly too long. They don't let bus drivers drive too long. I don't like to drive my RV more than six or seven hours. You lose something. We all do."
The Cubs will try to stay perfect since the break when they welcome the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night to open a three-game series.
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (7-7, 3.49 ERA) is scheduled to make his 17th start of the season and his first at home since June 9. He has had seven days off since his June 7 appearance against the Chicago White Sox.
Hendricks owns a 6-2 record with a 3.31 ERA in 15 career starts against the Reds. In his last three meetings, he is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA, including seven shutout innings last August.
The Reds will counter with right-hander Luis Castillo (8-3, 2.29), who enjoyed a dominant first half and made the All-Star team. He has allowed only 62 hits in 106 innings, walking 53 and striking out 124.
Castillo is 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA in eight career starts against the Cubs. He is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA in two matchups this season.
He is feeling good after pitching a scoreless inning and striking out two in the All-Star Game.
"Obviously felt great," Castillo said through an interpreter in comments published by the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"I think everyone comes out with the mentality to absolutely throw their best stuff out there. I was just happy trying to throw my best pitches and God-willing, I was able to strike out those two guys. You just try to go out there and be competitive."
Cincinnati has enjoyed success against the Cubs this season, winning six of the first nine matchups. The Reds have outscored the Cubs 47-40.
But Kris Bryant and his teammates could provide a tougher challenge this time around because they feel rested and confident.
"It's more mental," Bryant said. "You can play through the physical tiredness, but when you're going at it every day and getting beat up like we were before the All-Star break, it's more of a mental grind. I think we're mentally rested, and that's a good thing. ...
"We know we're going to hit rough patches again this year. It's just part of the game. But if we can find a way to minimize that and find a way to win three games in a row, win four games in a row, rather than win one, lose one, back and forth, that kind of just gets to you.
"If we're able to come together as a team and pull together some wins where we shouldn't win, and win the ones that we're supposed to win, I think we're going to be great."
--Field Level Media