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Why Milwaukee Has the Edge in Game 5

When so much importance is placed on one game, it’s inevitable that said game is going to be analyzed to death before and after it has been completed (anyone ever watched Super Bowl Media Day?), and I’m happy to help fulfill the first end of that proposition. Given that a single game is a small sample even in the context of the small sample of a divisional series, doing it with numbers is a mess. Also, this is a Brewers blog. So, today we’re going to look at three reasons to feel good about Milwaukee’s chances Friday.

(Disclaimer: I’m going to ramble here. A lot. Proceed at your own risk.)

Any conversation about Friday’s game is going to start with Yovani Gallardo, and that’s far from a bad thing. Gallardo has pitched like a top of the rotation arm this season, and solidified his acedom with eight dominant innings in game one. It’s hard to ask for a better pitcher in a deciding game than one in possession of strikeout stuff and the full arsenal to continue fooling hitters he faced five days before. Granted, the Diamondbacks have their own number one on the mound in Ian Kennedy, but the Brewers were able to get to Kennedy late in Saturday’s game while Gallardo remained largely untouched, enough to give Milwaukee a slight edge in the starting pitching department.

If and when Gallardo and Kennedy are removed from the game, both managers will have a full slate of relievers to turn to, with the Brewers again holding an apparent edge. John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez, Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, and even Zack Greinke should all be well-rested and ready to pitch. Arizona should also be ready with an army of hurlers that could include, among others, JJ Putz, David Hernandez, Joe Paterson, Bryan Shaw, and Jarrod Parker. Through some combination of reasoning and my irrational optimism, I would again take the Brewers here. Both teams have shutdown options at the back of the ‘pen, but Milwaukee’s cast of middlemen (especially if Ron Roenicke pulls a Girardi and brings in Greinke for an inning or two) have the swing-and-miss necessary to move through the suddenly hot bats in Arizona’s order.

Another thing that will almost certainly factor into the game, but in a way that’s nearly impossible to predict, let alone quantify, is the fact that the game is at Miller Park. Normally, home teams win about 55% of their regular season games, but every game this series, regardless of the host, has been played in a supercharged, near-football atmosphere that is going to tilt things the home team’s way. How much weight you want to assign to the aforementioned home teams’ perfect record this series is up to you, but anyone declaring Milwaukee dead yet has spoken approximately one game too soon.