A little over a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, right-handed reliever John Brebbia is back in the Majors.
The Giants activated Brebbia off the 60-day injured list ahead of their series finale against the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Oracle Park. In a pair of corresponding moves, the Giants transferred right-hander Aaron Sanchez (right bicep tightness) to the 60-day IL and optioned left-hander Conner Menez to Triple-A Sacramento.
Brebbia didn’t have to wait long to see action, as he was summoned to pitch the top of the ninth inning of the Giants’ 11-2 win on Father’s Day. Brebbia retired J.T. Realmuto and Travis Jankowski on lineouts before striking out Rafael Marchan swinging on a 94.7 mph fastball to end the game. It was his first regular-season appearance in the Majors since Sept. 28, 2019.
Brebbia, 31, posted a 3.14 ERA over 161 appearances for the Cardinals from 2017-19, but he underwent Tommy John surgery on June 1, 2020, and was non-tendered the following offseason. The Giants signed Brebbia to a one-year, $800,000 deal in December, knowing that he could return to bolster the club’s relief depth from the right side once he completed his rehab.
“I think dating back to '19 and '18 in St. Louis, he was one of the better right-handed relievers in the game,” manager Gabe Kapler said Sunday. “He was a guy that can get swing-and-misses, and we saw some of that in his rehab assignment. He’s looking healthy. He’s bouncing back well. It’s hard to make too many predictions based on rehab innings, but things have gone smoothly so far, and he’s had moments of real success. We’re looking forward to seeing him continue that at the Major League level.”
Brebbia, who relies primarily on a mid-90s fastball and a slider, began a rehab assignment on May 27, recording a 3.86 ERA with 11 strikeouts over seven innings in eight appearances with Triple-A Sacramento. He cleared his last major hurdle after pitching in back-to-back games for the River Cats on Monday and Tuesday.
The Giants had initially planned to have Brebbia make another rehab appearance on Saturday, but they decided to change course and add him to the roster against the Phillies, who rolled out a right-handed-heavy lineup against lefty Sammy Long on Sunday.
With the arrival of callups like Zack Littell, Dominic Leone, Jimmie Sherfy and Brebbia, the Giants have quietly reshuffled their bullpen, which entered Sunday with 14 blown saves, tied with the Dodgers and Phillies for second-most in the Majors. The Giants will likely ease Brebbia back into the fold since he’s coming off Tommy John surgery, but his track record suggests he could be another stabilizing force for the Giants’ bullpen moving forward.
“I think he’s been ready for this moment for a long time,” Kapler said. “I think he’s really pleased to be here with his teammates. He’s been chomping at the bit. He told me several days ago that anything beyond the work he had already done in Sac was just kind of icing on the cake, and he was ready. I think he feels ready to go, and we’re ready for him. It’s good timing for us.”