Brewers officials might have preferred if Gallardo had already called it a year. He missed all but four regular-season starts in 2008 because of a knee injury, and he has come back in 2009 to lead the Brewers in innings, strikeouts, walks and, as a byproduct of all three of those categories, total pitches.
But Gallardo is adamant that he feels strong, and his input helped convince the club to give him one more outing. Recently promoted prospect Josh Butler could appear in relief of Gallardo on Sunday, depending on the situation in the game, and Butler is likely to take Gallardo's place in the rotation five days later for at least one start.
Gallardo is looking forward to a bounce-back from his Tuesday outing in Chicago, in which he allowed seven runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 13-7 loss.
"My last time out was obviously not very good," he said. "That's one of my worst starts this year, and I really didn't want to end on that. I'm happy for the opportunity to end on a positive note."
"We wanted to give him that opportunity," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.
In his first 29 starts, Gallardo is 12-12 with a 3.84 ERA and 197 strikeouts, leaving him three whiffs shy of becoming the fourth pitcher in club history to reach 200 in a season. Teddy Higuera did it twice, and Gallardo has said that the milestone is important to him.
He's fourth in the National League in strikeouts but also ranks second in the Majors in walks. So how would he assess his season?
"I think I've pitched pretty well this year," Gallardo said. "I wish I could have more wins and fewer walks, but this is my first full year. Like I said in Spring Training, my No. 1 thing was staying healthy for the full year and pitching the whole year, and I've come pretty close to achieving that."
MIL: RHP Yovani Gallardo (12-12, 3.84 ERA)
Gallardo is 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in six career starts against the Astros, including 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA in four starts this season. The Brewers are 15-14 in his starts.
HOU: RHP Felipe Paulino (2-9, 6.06 ERA)
Paulino has three losses in his last three starts, but the Astros did not score a run while he was on the mound in any of those games. In those three starts, he's allowed five earned runs in 17 innings and struck out 20. Paulino hasn't won since holding Detroit to one run and three hits in seven innings June 27. He's 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in his career against the Brewers, including 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA this year.
The Brewers activated right-hander Seth McClung from the disabled list on Saturday after he missed 51 games with a sprained right elbow. "He's been cleared to pitch," Macha said. But will he pitch? Macha would prefer to wait for a low-stress situation to ease McClung in, but there are a number of arms in the bullpen waiting for the same opportunities. ... Manny Parra played catch for a second straight day Saturday and said his stiff neck was feeling significantly better. His next turn in the rotation would come Wednesday against the Cubs if he's able. If not, lefty Chris Narveson will make a third straight start in Parra's place. ... The Brewers recognized their Robin Yount Award winners on Saturday, an honor that goes to the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Right-hander Amaury Rivas won the pitcher honors and outfielder Logan Schafer was the player. "I'm happy, because I worked hard," Rivas said. "Somebody told me about [the award] and I said, 'No way.'" Rivas took a break from the instructional league to visit Miller Park. He's a fastball-changeup specialist but is working on his slider this fall.
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Monday: Brewers (Braden Looper, 13-6, 4.89) vs. Cubs (Tom Gorzelanny, 5-2, 5.29), 7:05 p.m. CT
Tuesday: Brewers (Dave Bush, 5-7, 5.88) vs. Cubs (Randy Wells, 10-9, 3.06), 7:05 p.m. CT
Wednesday: Brewers (Chris Narveson, 1-0, 4.22) vs. Cubs (Ted Lilly, 12-8, 3.02), 7:05 p.m. CT