The following is from our friends at SportsInput Newswire:

The National League Central division was not decided until game 162 when the St. Louis Cardinals clinched after a 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs, subsequently finalizing the entire playoff bracket for the Senior Circuit.

The aforementioned Red Birds win forces the Milwaukee Brewers to now play the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night in DC for a one-game elimination as wild card participants. The winner will advance on to the NLDS, where they will confront the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that cruised to 106 victories during the regular season, and secured home-field advantage weeks ago.

The Dodgers (-120) are clear-cut favorites and easily the safest bet on the MLB odds board to win the Pennant in the National League, as they seek their third-consecutive crown, and another return trip to the World Series. Although not receiving “plus money” on settlement of a winning ticket – the price offers value – a high probability for profit – at a reasonable investment to collect – especially when you consider the talent level and product on the field is far superior than any of its adversaries.

The gap between the Dodgers and any other playoff contender in the NL is substantial. Their bullpen ranked fourth among all 30 MLB teams during the regular season with a 3.82 ERA, and as a complete staff, they posses a 3.37 ERA ( No.1 overall). They also allowed the fewest hits, walks, and were second only to the Tampa Bay Rays in surrendering home runs.

The offense was first in the National League in runs scored, home runs, total bases, slugging percentage, and OPS.

According to SportsInput Analytics, LA has a 44.5% chance to reach the World Series, while no other team in the National League is better than an 18% expectation. Other NL Pennant odds include the Atlanta Braves, who are being offered with a return of +300 at bet365, while Washington and St. Louis are paying off at +700 and +750 respectively, ahead of the Brewers, the lone organization considered as the longshot of the group, amidst a gaudy +1300 reward.

The Nationals could be the one team to give the Dodgers some trouble, with a starting three-headed monster of  Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin to rival Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Walker Buehler. However, first, the Nats need to get past the Brewers before this happens, and with their bullpen among the worst ever, manager Dave Martinez might have to get creative in late innings to avoid calling upon and bringing in relievers to get outs.

One final note on the Dodgers, they have by far the most playoff experience of all the NL teams, and are eager/motivated to claim their first World Series trophy since 1988.