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MLB Tipsheet: Top pitchers will stop the runs in Houston

Justin Verlander
Verlander will expect to win tonight as he chases the Cy Young Award
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The Los Angeles Dodgers became the first team to clinch a playoff berth in the MLB this week and fresh off three winners on Monday night, Ben Steele previews three of tonight's best games.

Cy Young favourite, Justin Verlander takes the mound for the Astros. The 36-year-old is two starts removed from his third career no-hitter and leads the American League in both ERA and WHIP.

Cubs to move in to wildcard driving seat

Chicago Cubs @ San Diego Padres
Thursday 20:40 BST

The Chicago Cubs got a boost to their playoff hopes last on Tuesday night in two different places. Firstly, and unfortunately, in Miami as reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich sustained a serious knee injury that means he will miss the rest of the season with the Milwaukee Brewers. The second boost came in San Diego, where tonight's game against the Padres takes place.

Rookie Nico Hoerner capped his MLB debut with a three hit, four RBI performance as the Cubs ran out 10-2 winners. The four game series in San Diego concludes tonight with Hoerner, and Chicago's newest star Nick Castellanos, providing run support for Yu Darvish as the Cubs look to take control of the final NL wildcard spot with a win.

Push for playoff rotation role starts now for Hill

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Baltimore Orioles
Friday 00:15 BST

Los Angeles Dodgers veteran Rich Hill gets almost the perfect, pre-playoff matchup as he tries to earn a spot on the LA October rotation. The Dodgers face the 47-98 Baltimore Orioles tonight, and should really have no trouble dealing with them. With run support from the exceptional Cody Bellinger, who is playing at an MVP level, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson and Justin Turner it is highly likely that Hill will be able to earn a win.

With a poor Baltimore side in the batter's box it will be up to Hill to dominate and turn the head of manager Dave Roberts. The Dodgers have Hyun-jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw already locked in to October baseball, and will manage their workload down the stretch accordingly, giving Hill the chance to stake a claim. Look for tonight's comfortable win to be the first of many key performances from LA pitchers on the bubble of a playoff starting role.

Ridiculous run surge in Houston set to end

Oakland Athletics @ Houston Astros
Friday 01:10 BST

The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics close out a series that has seen an absurd number of runs. The first two games of the series yielded 43 runs alone, and last night the A's took the lead in the series with a 5-3 win. However, with both teams starting good pitchers tonight that run should end. Homer Bailey has been solid since arriving in Oakland earlier in the season but it is the Houston ace who will be the real draw. Cy Young favourite, Justin Verlander takes the mound for the Astros. The 36-year-old is two starts removed from his third career no-hitter and leads the American League in both ERA and WHIP. He is also 6-1 in his last nine games. Look for a low scoring, Houston win tonight.

Ben Steele,

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