Before Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, the SF Giants made a pair of roster moves that enabled them to activate right-handed reliever John Brebbia from the 60-day injured list. To create a spot on the 40-man roster for Brebbia, the Giants transferred pitcher Aaron Sanchez from the 10-day to 60-day injured list. At the big-league level, they optioned southpaw Conner Menez to add Brebbia to the active roster.
Brebbia was a high-leverage reliever with the St. Louis Cardinals from 2017-2019 and seemed well-positioned to compete to become the team’s closer headed into the 2020 season. However, Brebbia missed the entire regular season after he tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and underwent surgery.
The SF Giants optioned Conner Menez and transferred Aaron Sanchez to the 60-day IL to activate RHP John Brebbia.
After Brebbia was non-tendered by the Cardinals last offseason, the Giants inked him to a one-year, $800,000 deal despite knowing he would not factor into the Opening Day roster. He continued rehabbing from his injury and was recently assigned to Triple-A Sacramento on a rehab assignment. Over eight appearances with the River Cats, Brebbia recorded a 3.86 ERA, struck out 11, and walked two across seven innings pitched.
Brebbia has a straightforward fastball/slider arsenal. While his fastball only averages around 94 mph, it generates above-average vertical movement and consistently induces swings and misses at a good rate. His slider is another strong offering that remains effective even though he has thrown it nearly 50% of the time over his career. Unlike other recent Giants relievers who rely solely on one pitch, like Jake McGee, Matt Wisler, and Caleb Baragar, Brebbia consistently bounces between his fastball and slider with ease.
In his MLB career, Brebbia’s recorded a 3.14 ERA across 175 innings with 198 strikeouts, 54 walks, and just 139 hits. His peripheral numbers have always viewed his work favorably as well, FIP estimates his career performance in line with a 3.39 ERA.
While placing Sanchez on the 60-day IL enabled the Giants to activate Brebbia, the move only kicks the roster crunch can down the road. Sanchez has been out since May 4th with biceps inflammation, but recently began a rehab assignment of his own. He has made three appearances at Triple-A, allowing seven earned runs over 5.1 innings. Prior to his injury, he posted a 3.18 ERA (3.88 FIP) over six starts with the Giants.
Menez’s stay in the minor leagues will likely be short. The left-handed pitcher has been fantastic out of the bullpen for manager Gabe Kapler. He has recorded a career-best 15:3 strikeout-to-walk rate across 14 innings pitched in 2021. He primarily started throughout his minor-league career and struggled in Sacramento’s rotation this year before his promotion. It’s unclear whether he will remain in relief or return to starting back in the minors.
The SF Giants have waited plenty of time to see right-handed pitcher John Brebbia suit up. As of Sunday, June 20th, he’s finally returned from UCL surgery and will hopefully give the Giants coaching staff an additional high-leverage option in close games.