The 2021 National League Wild-Card Game is a matchup unlike any other in the 10-year history of the expanded playoff format. The World Series favorites take on the hottest team in baseball when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

The Dodgers went 106-56 in the regular season, putting them a game behind the San Francisco Giants for MLB’s best record. A year after winning the 2020 Fall Classic, Los Angeles has the best betting odds of winning the 2021 World Series, even as they enter a single-game elimination contest. 

The Cardinals finished well behind the Dodgers in the wild-card standings with a 90-72 record, but no one played better than St. Louis down the stretch. A 17-game winning streak that extended into the final week of the season allowed the Cardinals to clinch the second wild-card berth. St. Louis took its foot off the gas pedal with three losses in its final five games, once it had a playoff berth locked up.

Max Scherzer gets the start for Los Angeles at home against Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright. The two veterans have pitched in countless big games with 221 postseason innings between them. 

Scherzer is somehow still as good as ever. The three-time Cy Young winner allowed a league-low 6.0 hits and 1.8 walks per nine innings. One of the greatest trade-deadline additions in history, Scherzer went 7-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts with the Dodgers.

Wainwright had his best season in seven years, posting a 3.05 ERA and a league-high three complete games in 32 starts. Wainwright was defeated once after the All-Star break, pitching into the seventh inning in nine of his 14 starts.

Wainwright gave up four runs in 8.1 innings in a 5-4 victory over Los Angeles on Sept. 8. The Dodgers beat the Cardinals four times in seven tries this season.

Los Angeles is a heavy -225 favorite at home, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. St. Louis has +188 odds to pull off the upset.

Wednesday’s winner earns a spot in the NLDS against the Giants. Game 1 of that series is scheduled for Friday in San Francisco.

The Dodgers led all NL teams in both runs scored and ERA during the regular season. The Cardinals ranked just 10th in scoring and seventh in ERA.

Los Angeles certainly has the more star-studded roster. The Dodgers have seven players who made the All-Star team. Five of those All-Stars are hitters, including Trea Turner, who won the NL batting title with a .328 average and hit .338/.385/.565 after being traded to L.A. mid-season.

Max Muncy led the Dodgers with 36 home runs, 94 RBI and a .368 on-base percentage, but he won’t play Wednesday because of an elbow injury. Clayton Kershaw isn’t available to pitch due to a forearm injury.

The Cardinals had three players named to the NL All-Star team. Nolan Arenado leads the team with 34 home runs and 105 RBI. St. Louis’ hitters have a combined .130 career average against Scherzer in 145 combined at-bats.

The NL Wild-Card Game starts at 8:10 p.m. ET Wednesday on TBS. Viewers can watch a live stream with tbs.com.

Prediction: Los Angeles over St. Louis 4-2

Max Scherzer Los Angeles Dodgers Max Scherzer #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he receives the visit from Mark Prior #99, Trea Turner #6 and Will Smith #16 after an error from Corey Seager #5, allowing Wil Myers #5 of the San Diego Padres to score to tie the game 5-5, during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images