MLB Tipsheet: Astros set to strengthen their divisional grip

Gerrit Cole
Cole is hunting for his 13th win of the year
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After an action-packed week in the MLB that saw multiple teams bolster their lineups with big name calibre talent, Ben Steele previews three games involving five playoff contenders.

"Cole's immense talent coupled with the questions around the Cleveland bullpen makes Houston heavy favourites to win tonight."

Houston expect to win against returning star

Houston Astros @ Cleveland Indians
Friday 00:10 BST

The Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians face off in the final game of a three game series that is currently split 1-1. Houston's hopes of a win will be lifted by the sight of the exceptional Gerrit Cole taking the mound as he searches for his 13th win of the season. Cole will face Danny Salazar, a 29-year-old former All-Star who is making his first appearance in an MLB game since 2017.

Salazar has had consistent shoulder problems for the last 18 months and will be held to a strict pitch count for tonight's game, further increasing Houston's chances of a win. Cole's immense talent coupled with the questions around the Cleveland bullpen makes Houston heavy favourites to win tonight.

Cubs and Cards collide in NL Central

Chicago Cubs @ St Louis Cardinals
Friday 00:15 BST

The NL Central is the most tightly contested division in baseball. As it stands three teams have won 57 games and two of those teams face off tonight; the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals.

Chicago, who beat St Louis 2-0 last night, will rely on their big hitting infielders Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to provide support to pitcher Jon Lester. The wily veteran is 4-1 in his last seven starts and was in top form on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers. With St Louis in good form themselves, I expect the game to go right down to the wire. If Baez and co can get to Cardinals pitcher, Jack Flaherty, early on Chicago will fancy their chances in what should be a low scoring game.

Front running Dodgers continue their regular season dominance

San Diego Padres @ Los Angeles Dodgers
Friday 03:10 BST

The LA Dodgers have won, a league best, 71 games so far this season and will be heavy favourites to return to the World Series for the third time in a row. Tonight they host the San Diego Padres, a side who probably would be in the playoff hunt if they didn't have to contend with the Dodgers on a regular basis. LA will start Clayton Kershaw, a man who has been dominant against the Padres for his entire career. Kershaw is 19-6 with a 2.00 ERA against San Diego in his career and, as if that wasn't bad enough, is one of the best pitchers in the league again this season.

With the Dodgers boasting an incredible amount of talent in their batting lineup and Kershaw boasting an unbelievable record against San Diego it is very likely that the Dodgers will win, and win well tonight.

Ben Steele,

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