As a rookie in 2007, Yovani Gallardo made a big impression in the National League by posting a 9-5 record and a 3.67 ERA. The Mexican right-hander's follow up season, though, was limited to just four games by a knee injury (he did make two appearances in the Division Series loss to Philadelphia). This year, however, Gallardo is healthy again and he leads his staff in wins (10), ERA (3.54) and strikeouts (158). He recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have thrown the ball really well this year. Are you happy with your results?
Gallardo: Things have been going pretty well. My No. 1 concern has been my health. I want to get this full year in and under my belt. I missed nearly five months last year, and, coming into the spring, I didn't know how my knee would respond.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How does your knee feel now?
Gallardo: It feels 100 percent. Every time I get the chance to start, I'm out there to do what I can do to get us in the win column.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What was it like last year to miss so much time?
Gallardo: It was very frustrating. Last year, I was very excited going into Spring Training. I was happy to start the season in the big leagues, and I was happy to be part of this team. After the surgery, I came back for a few starts, and then I tore my ACL. The first few weeks were the worst -- I had to sit at home and watch the games on TV. I wanted to be where the team was.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Did you ever shake that feeling?
Gallardo: After awhile you just fight through it. It is such a competitive game, and I'm a competitive player, but injuries are just part of the game. They happen, so you find your way through it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a rookie in 2007, you went 9-5. Do you feel now like the same pitcher?
Gallardo: I think I feel the same. With every start you learn something new, even if they are little things. Basically, though, I think I'm the same pitcher.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You've already thrown 140 innings this year, the most you have thrown in the big leagues. Is that a number you are aware of?
Gallardo: The most innings I've pitched were in 2007. Between the big leagues and Triple-A, it was close to 200 innings. Last year I was limited to 24, but I feel strong now.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You had a game this season in which you struck out 11 and a game in which you struck out 12. In performances like that, are you in a real zone on the mound?
Gallardo: Of course -- in games like that, you have a couple of your pitches really working that day. Every pitcher wants to have that feeling each and every time they take the mound, but it doesn't always happen. Some nights you really just have to battle out there. We pitchers need to make adjustments just like the hitters do. The key for me is to command my fastball.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When you are pitching in a game like that, do you get concerned your pitch count is getting too high?
Gallardo: I think the most important thing is to just get the guy out, whichever way it might be. Of course, you want to keep your pitch count down, so you will be able to pitch more innings and go deeper in the game. At the same time, there are those situations in a game that you need to strike a guy out. It depends on that situation.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have been a standout in a rotation that, over the winter, lost Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia, and your pitching staff currently has four guys on the DL. Do you think you have stepped it up when your team has needed you the most?
Gallardo: Last year we had guys who were a huge part of this team. This year, we have a pretty good team with a good offense and good pitching. We have also have guys down to injury. In the end, you just have to battle through it. Hopefully, we can get some of those guys back soon.
MLBPLAYERS.com: On those occasions when you have not been at your best this year, you've said you were "rushing" yourself. What does that mean?
Gallardo: It's me just trying to do too much. In my throwing motion, I have not let my arm catch up with the rest of my body. It's dragged a little. Sometimes you just can't get out of that jam with one pitch. You have to find your way. There will be those days, and it happened to me a few games before the All-Star break. You have to work on that and ultimately find your comfort spot.
MLBPLAYERS.com: The Brewers are still in the race. What will be the key down the stretch?
Gallardo: We know what we're capable of. We have a great team here, and we just want to take it one series at a time. We do have several weeks left in the season, but this team plays hard every game and gives 100 percent. Approaching one game at a time -- and one series at a time -- will be the key.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.