Jake Arrieta will be back in Cincinnati on Monday and will make his first start at Great American Ball Park since throwing his second career no-hitter there on April 21.
"I think anyone with any pride at all would like to get that opportunity to face him again," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Sunday. "We've had games where we've given him good games. We've beaten him at times in the past and made life more challenging than we did here more recently.
"He's certainly one of the best starting pitchers in the game right now. I would like to think everybody here is champing at the bit to get another opportunity to beat him."
When Arrieta shut down the Reds, he was riding a hot streak. The right-hander posted 20 consecutive wins from Aug. 4, 2015, to May 25 this year. This month, he's been tough to beat but has seemed more human. He was 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA in five April starts; Arrieta is 2-2 with a 2.35 ERA in four June starts. He hadn't lost two games in a month since May 2015.
"His stuff has been great," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of his ace. "In my mind's eye, it was about this time last year, he took off. A lot of times, history repeats itself with these guys."
Against the Reds, Arrieta is 4-2 with a 2.81 ERA in six career games, and he has held them to a .219 batting average against.
Things to know about this game
• Cincinnati will counter with right-hander Dan Straily on Monday in the first game of the three-game series. Straily had an odd start last time out in which he faced the minimum in every inning except a troublesome fourth.
"It was just really frustrating to have been going like that and finish like that but have such poor command for three hitters in a row," said Straily, who ended with four runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts against the Rangers. "It was just one of those things where I was trying to figure it out and just couldn't. It was just really, really frustrating."
• Expect Miguel Montero to catch Arrieta on Monday, which will be his third straight game behind the plate. The Cubs have been trying to ease Willson Contreras into games, but the rookie has started in left field two in a row and also has played some first base.
"The fact that he's comfortable in other spots helps," Maddon said of Contreras. "He's comfortable at first base and left field."
• The Cubs' Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo most likely are looking forward to hitting at Great American Ball Park. Bryant has hit .421 with two home runs in four games there, while Rizzo has hit four homers in Cincinnati this year. They've each driven in eight runs there so far this year.