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Cubs' Tseng set for debut vs. Mets

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Jen-Ho Tseng just happens to be in town Thursday to pick up an award as the Chicago Cubs' minor league pitcher of the year.

So the Cubs figured, why not give him a start?

The 22-year-old prospect makes his major league debut Thursday against New York Mets and right-hander Seth Lugo in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. Chicago will attempt to sweep the set.

"I've heard nothing but good things about this kid, I've watched the video," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in making the announcement prior to Chicago's 17-5 rout of New York on Wednesday. "It could be one-and-done, we'll see how it all plays out. This guy's really a good command pitcher with a really good changeup and nice breaking ball.

"Sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle and you learn some things, too. We'll play him tomorrow night and see where it takes us and try to figure the next step after that."

The switch is part of a strategy to give the Taiwanese hurler a good look against big league batters. It also helps shore up the bullpen by moving left-hander Mike Montgomery from his temporary spot in the rotation back to a relief role.

Montgomery joined the rotation Aug. 18 after left-hander Jon Lester went on the disabled list. He remained there as Jake Arrieta sustained a hamstring injury that has cost him one start and might keep him out of a second.

Montgomery (5-8, 3.64 ERA) was originally scheduled to start Thursday.

"We needed some more help in the bullpen, and Monty's so versatile," Maddon said. "He was amenable and talked about it. He's going to be available in the 'pen (Thursday) and of course moving forward.

"We think it will be better to put Monty back out there."

Tseng went a combined 13-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 24 starts between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He was promoted to Iowa in early July, going 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA in nine starts. He was signed by the Cubs as an international free agent in July 2013 and was also named organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2014.

He reportedly kept active throwing in Arizona after Iowa's season ended in early September.

Lugo (6-4, 4.64 ERA) likely will be watched closely as he works late-season outings following two earlier stints on the disabled list. He missed time due to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and a shoulder impingement. His most recent activation from the disabled list came Aug. 27.

"We wanted him to finish this year feeling good and feeling strong," Mets manager Terry Collins said last week. "He realized that he's got some work ahead of him to strengthen up his shoulder and his elbow, but he's OK and he can still pitch. So we're just going to keep an eye on him."

Lugo picked up a victory while working six scoreless innings in the Mets' 5-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. He has no record and two career appearances against the Cubs -- both last season -- throwing a total of four innings of scoreless relief while striking out three.

After the blowout win Wednesday, the first-place Cubs hold a 2 1/2-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers and a three-game edge on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central.

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