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Brebbia channels newfound Dad strength

Cards reliever and new father riding consecutive scoreless outings
@anne__rogers
July 4, 2019

SEATTLE -- John Brebbia doesn’t credit being a new father entirely to the career-high six strikeouts he threw in the Cardinals’ 5-2 win on Wednesday against the Mariners, but he certainly doesn’t discount the idea. “That’d be nice,” Brebbia said. “That’d be real cool. I’ll take any amount of strength

SEATTLE -- John Brebbia doesn’t credit being a new father entirely to the career-high six strikeouts he threw in the Cardinals’ 5-2 win on Wednesday against the Mariners, but he certainly doesn’t discount the idea.

“That’d be nice,” Brebbia said. “That’d be real cool. I’ll take any amount of strength I can get. A few more pushups and maybe carrying Henry around a little bit.”

Brebbia’s wife, Amanda, gave birth to Henry Fitch Brebbia, the couple’s first child, last weekend. In Brebbia’s first outing back from the paternity list, he threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Cardinals within striking distance of the Mariners. It was a welcome outing for Brebbia and the Cardinals, especially after a tough June, when Brebbia posted a 8.71 ERA in 11 games, allowing 10 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.

But in his past three outings, including on Wednesday, Brebbia has thrown four innings and given up one hit and one run.

Dad strength aside, Brebbia's success stems from getting back to throwing strikes, attacking hitters and keeping them off-balance with his different pitches.

Brebbia threw 21 fastballs Wednesday night, establishing the pitch early, and 11 sliders throughout his 2 1/3 innings, the longer outing giving him the opportunity to use offspeed offerings.

The slider that Statcast tracks is a mix between Brebbia’s slider and what he calls his curveball -- a slower slider that he’s been able to mix in.

“I like mixing in a slider and, I’ll put it in quotes, a curveball,” Brebbia said. “It’s not a true curveball in a sense of TrackMan doesn’t tell me it’s a curveball, which means I’m probably not that great at throwing it. Prior to them being able to read my pitches, I would say I have two breaking balls. But Trackman has made a liar of me.”

The mix of breaking balls helped Brebbia carve up the Mariners offense. He got three swinging strikes on it -- two of those in Tom Murphy’s strikeout in the sixth inning. The Mariners fouled off most of those pitches, and Brebbia would finish them off with his fastball.

“The difference is I’m not getting shelled for multiple runs for every pitch I’ve thrown, which is really nice. I think it boils down to execution,” Brebbia said. “I feel like if I can change speeds at a couple of different levels, it should help. When you combine the execution with a bunch of different speeds, just like 100 years ago, just like 50 years ago, just like five years ago, just like now, that’s going to work.”

The other aspect that has helped Brebbia has been channeling his “inner Miles” Mikolas, getting back to attacking hitters and throwing the strikes that will get them out. Brebbia talked with Mikolas during Spring Training about his approach and attitude on the mound and has watched the way Mikolas pitches in his starts.

“He just fills up the zone with a lot of really good, sharp pitches,” Brebbia said. “I definitely got away from trying to attack hitters, and especially when you’re not doing well, it’s really easy to go out there and think, ‘Great, if I throw a strike, it’s going to be another double or something like that.’ To just reset and think, ‘All right, let’s channel our inner Miles and throw strikes, get guys out with all of our stuff,’ can make it a lot better.”

Minor League report

Zach Thompson, the Cardinals' first-round Draft pick this year, was added to the Class A Advanced Palm Beach roster on Thursday. The left-hander from Kentucky -- who was taken with the No. 19 pick in the Draft -- started two games for the Rookie-level Cardinals, but he threw just an inning in each start. It allowed the Cards to see where Thompson would fit best to begin in their Minor League system.

The Cardinals also named their Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month on Thursday: Triple-A Memphis outfielder Randy Arozarena and Palm Beach right-hander Alvaro Seijas.

Arozarena had a .374/.452/.607 slash line in 28 June games between Double-A Springfield and Memphis. He was promoted to Memphis on June 12 after slashing .382/.500/.706 with Springfield.

The 24-year-old’s season didn’t begin until May 11 due to a fractured right hand that he sustained in Spring Training, but in 49 games this season, Arozarena has six home runs, two triples, 14 doubles and 28 RBIs.

Seijas was just promoted to Palm Beach on Wednesday. In June, he was 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA and 26 strikeouts in five starts in June for Class A Peoria. On June 1, he threw a season-high 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. The 20-year-old had 26 strikeouts last month against nine walks. he also allowed three runs or fewer in all five starts.

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.