Gallardo anxious for "ace" role in 2010

After a fine finale to his 2009 season, Yovani Gallardo said he was looking forward to serving as the Brewers’ bona fide ace next season.

“I’ll be able to accept that role,” he said after pitching five innings of Milwaukee’s 6-0 win over the Astros on Sunday. “I go out there and give my team all I’ve got every start and I feel I
have that kind of stuff. Obviously, there’s little things I
need to work on, which will only make me better. To be in a role like
that at my age, it shows what the organization thinks of me.”

After a disappointing at Wrigley Field last week the Brewers granted him one more limited start, a move to protect the 23-year-old from a huge spike in workload this year. He delivered a quality finale, tossing five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, becoming the fourth pitcher in Brewers history to pass the 200-strikeout barrier.

Gallardo finished 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA in 30 starts and 185 2/3 innings.

“Going out there, I knew it was the last start and I was going to go at the most five innings,” Gallardo said. “It’s tough, but to end on a good note is always good. We got a win and I finished the year strong.”

Gallardo caught Astros pitcher Felipe Paulino looking at a fastball in the second inning for his third strikeout of the game and his 200th of the season. He struck out Michael Bourn for the second time to end the inning, and a sleepy crowd of 30,024 acknowledged Gallardo’s achievement when it appeared on the scoreboard. 

He finished the season with 204 strikeouts to join Ben Sheets (who set a franchise record with 264 strikeouts in 2004), Teddy Higuera (who notched a pair of 200-strikeout seasons) and Doug Davis as the only pitchers in club history to break 200. 

“It’s important to me,” Gallardo said. “I’m sure every guy in here has goals, whether that’s hitting .300 or getting 20 wins or 200 strikeouts. With not being able to pitch last year, being able to achieve [the strikeout milestone] is a big jump for me. Getting numbers like that, it helps you be more confident and prepared for next year.” 

Gallardo will remain with the team for the rest of the year to throw side sessions. Presumably, he’ll make his next “real” start for the Brewers when they open the 2010 season at home against Colorado. 

Brewers manager Ken Macha didn’t think Gallardo was ready for the Opening Day honor earlier this year. Now, he thinks he’s ready for that step. 

“He’s done some very good things,” Macha said. “But there are some things that need to get worked out with him if he’s going to reach the potential that he does have. The stuff is there — he’s got No. 1 starter stuff — but the command is not always there, he struggles with his release point and he’s leading the league in walks.

“So there are things that can be ironed out. When your No. 1 starter walks out of that bullpen it’s kind of like guys take the rest of the day off. [Gallardo] is not there yet, but after missing almost all of last year, he’s thrown the ball very well.”

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