MILWAUKEE -- Yovani Galardo won both of his starts against the D-backs this season and is 5-0 against them in his career. Not that those numbers will be on his mind when he starts Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Saturday.
"You try not to pay attention too much on those things," Gallardo said as the Brewers prepped for a workout at Miller Park on Friday. "But they have a good team. They have a bunch of good hitters. You've got to move the ball around with those guys. I've been doing my homework, [watching] a lot of video and am prepared for tomorrow."
Three years ago, Gallardo had no time to prepare, and perhaps that was a good thing, considering he was a 22-year-old barely back from knee surgery pitching the Brewers' first postseason game in a generation.
This time, he is the easy choice to face Ian Kennedy and the D-backs in Game 1, with the broadcast slated to begin at 1 p.m. CT on TBS and Gallardo's first pitch scheduled for 1:07.
Loves to face.:
Casey McGehee, 0-for-7 Hates to face: Ryan Braun, 2-
Loves to face: Chris Young, 2-
for-13 Hates to face: Justin Upton, 3-for-9
Why he'll win: D-
backs have won last seven of his starts
Why he'll win: 2-0, 1.77 ERA with
36 strikeouts in last 3 starts
Struggled at Miller Park last August
Pitcher beware: Allowed 27 HR
this year, D-backs 4th in NL with 172 HR
Bottom line: Step
up on big stage
Bottom line: Milwaukee's
"In '08, after missing the whole year and getting that opportunity to start Game 1, it was good, but it was a lot going on," Gallardo said. "This year, I've battled with the team the whole year. That makes a lot of difference."
Gallardo was surprised when then-manager Dale Sveum tabbed him for Game 1 of the 2008 NLDS against the Phillies. The Brewers were in a bind, having clinched the NL Wild Card on the final day of the season behind CC Sabathia, and Gallardo was deemed the best option, even though he had made only one September start, spanning four innings, after surgery in May to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.
Compare that to 2011, as Gallardo led Milwaukee in wins (17) and strikeouts (207) while working 207 1/3 innings, and he pitched the team's only complete game. He enters the postseason on a hot streak, with a 1.77 ERA and 36 strikeouts over 20 1/3 innings in his final three regular-season starts. He is the only Brewers pitcher to top 200 strikeouts in three different seasons.
Now 25, and finishing the second season of a five-year, $30.1 million contract he inked in April 2010, Gallardo started Milwaukee's NL Central-clinching win on Sept. 23.
"He wants the ball, and he doesn't care who it's against or what the circumstances are; he wants the ball in his hand," pitching coach Rick Kranitz said.
Gallardo appeared twice in the 2008 postseason and did not allow an earned run in seven innings. In his Game 1 start, he worked four gutsy innings and surrendered three hits and three unearned runs -- the result of two Brewers misplays. Gallardo came back four days later in Game 4 to pitch three scoreless innings in relief, but Milwaukee already faced a deficit that would cost the club the series.
The Brewers fell to the eventual World Series champion Phillies, 3-1.
That experience, Gallardo figures, will aid Milwaukee this time around.
"The first time is always tough," he said. "You want to look at it as just another regular-season game, but yet there's a lot more excitement and adrenaline. Having experienced that before, it's going to help.
"I'm going to just focus on the game. That's the goal. Obviously, it's going to be exciting for all of us, but I just need to do what I've been doing all year."
Gallardo threw a simulated game on Tuesday to help cover the gap between his starts, then worked in a bullpen session on Thursday.
Roenicke laid out the scenarios to his pitchers on Tuesday, and Gallardo, as is his style, took it in stride. The second-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft is notoriously even-keeled, a trait that has served him well in two Opening Day starts and his previous postseason assignments.
Underneath, he promised, the excitement is bubbling.
"Trust me," Gallardo said. "I'm very excited about it. Winning the division was the first step of hopefully more to come. We said it in Spring Training, 'We have to take one step at a time.' And we achieved the first one."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.