Giants eye big things for healthy Brebbia

June 23rd, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Before making his season debut with the Giants on Sunday, reliever John Brebbia had last pitched in a Major League game on Sept. 28, 2019, while with the Cardinals.

In March 2020, Brebbia sustained a right ulnar collateral ligament tear and rehabbed from the injury before ultimately electing to undergo Tommy John surgery three months later in June.

Brebbia threw a total of 10 pitches and completed an inning of work to close out an 11-2 win over the Phillies on Sunday; two days after making his return from injury, Brebbia said it felt good to get back to doing what he loves. 

“After watching so many baseball games and not being able to participate in them, it just felt rewarding to be able to get back to a point where I was healthy and capable of throwing a pitch,” he said.

Brebbia set down the Phillies' side in order relying on just a slider and a mid-90s fastball. He added that the return felt strange, considering he hadn't thrown in the big leagues for over a year and a half.

“So I think moving forward, it should normalize a little bit, but it was definitely nice to have that first outing,” Brebbia said. “It's like, 'All right, cool. Elbow's attached and it's ready to throw and I'm going to throw this thing as hard as I can and hope it doesn't tear again.’”

The righty spent his first three years with the Cardinals, where he posted a 3.14 ERA in 175 innings in that span.

Giants manage Gabe Kapler said Brebbia “didn't miss a beat,” adding that the right-hander looked like the version of himself the Giants saw while Brebbia was with St. Louis.

“I thought his stuff was good. He's able to reach back and get a little bit extra velocity. I think he had plenty of adrenaline. … But the fastball looked good and he look poised and in control. So it looked like a healthy John Brebbia, and that's all we can ask for.”

Moving forward, Kapler said Brebbia could be a regularly used weapon out of the Giants' bullpen. Brebbia, who has held right-handed hitters to a career .201 batting average, could be used in big spots just like San Francisco has utilized fellow righties Zack Littell, Dominic Leone and Jimmie Sherfy.

“Brebbia fits right into that mix,” Kepler said. “At some point, we could see him being one of our main leverage options against right-handed pockets of lineups because of the success that we saw in St. Louis in '18 and '19. So we know that that kind of brand of pitching is in there. [He was] one of the better right-handed relievers in the game for a couple of years and we're going to try to bring that out of him and use him accordingly.”